Alea iacta est! translation
The most famous Roman in history. Brilliant general, orator, politician and writer. Had nothing to do with the salad
or the surgical procedure
Gaius was born in the month his successor
would rename after him, July (then called Quintilis
), in the year 100 BC, to a minor aristocratic family that nonetheless traced its line back to the foundation of Rome, as well as the goddess Venus and the hero Aeneas
. Caesar's father died when he was 16 and Caesar thus became head of the household and, within a year, the teenaged Flamen Dialisnote
, for which he had to break off his engagement to a plebian girl and marry Cornelia, the daughter of four-time consul Lucius Cinna. His family connections made Caesar a target of the dictator Sulla, who forced him to spend much of his inheritance in elaborate ceremonies, as well as removing his priesthood at the pleas of his mother Aurelia and others, and had toyed with having Caesar killed when he refused to divorce his wife Cinilla after one of Sulla's proscriptions stripped her of her noble status.
Abandoning the post of Flamen Dialis caused him to lose his position in the Senate, but enabled him to join the Military, which he did. However one of Sulla's restrictions, possibly ordered as a joke, only allowed him to ride a donkey into battle. Despite these setbacks, he went on to win glory for himself by winning the Civic Crown in a siege, which entitled him to automatic entry into the Senate (ironically, one of Sulla's reforms- in fact, Caesar couldn't have joined the army either if Sulla hadn't stripped him of his priesthood)note
. He also, during this time, was sent on a mission to Bithynia to secure the help of King Nicomedes, but his lengthy stay at court sprouted (probably false) rumours in Rome that the two were having a homosexual relationship, rumours that were to dog Caesar throughout his career.
Caesar returned shortly before Sulla's death, during which time the dictator rescinded his order only allowing Caesar to ride a donkey, and gave him a present of a warhorse with toes instead of normal hooves. He was to ride this horse and its descendants into battle for the rest of his career. Despite these positive gains, his fortune was depleted, and he had to survive on a fairly low budget, and moved to a modest house in a plebian district. Henceforth he would have several problems with moneylenders, taking many big loans and having trouble repaying them. He took up legal advocacy (like most aspiring politicians of the time) and became famous for his oratory and ruthlessness in the courts. Shortly after he sought to improve his oratory further and sought out Cicero's teacher Appollonius in Rhodes. On the way, he was captured by pirates, and infamously acted high-handedly with his captors, demanding they ask for a higher ransom and promising to hunt them down and kill them all once he was freed. The pirates thought he was joking (they were wrong
After his return to Rome, he was elected military tribunenote
, and quaestor in 69 BC. That year, his first wife died. He served his quaestorship in Hispania, where he reportedly wept at a statue of Alexander the Great
, realizing his achievements at the same age were rather less impressive. He married Sulla's granddaughter Pompeia later on and worked to undermine the regime the dead dictator set up, possibly being involved in two aborted coups. (Ironically, he was following in Sulla's footsteps in this regard, as the late dictator had done exactly the same to the previous Roman regime.)
His real climb to power began in 63 BC. After arranging and presiding over a show trial of an elderly senator, probably just to show that he could (the defence had to fake an invasion to prevent the death penalty being passed, and Caesar seemingly chose to let the matter dropnote
), he got himself elected Pontifex Maximus - chief priest of Rome - a huge gamble that would have ruined him if he failed, as he poured all his money into his campaign, whereas while in office he could not be prosecuted for his debts. As he told his mother before going to the polls, he would return as Pontifex Maximus or not at all.
By this point he had become a major player in the Popularist faction, which included many figures who publicly supported the plight of the poor but privately just wanted to advance their own careers, and was probably involved in the Catiline conspiracy, though he avoided prosecution. He ruthlessly divorced Pompeia after a sex scandal at his house; she was not involved, but he said that "The Chief Priest's wife must be above suspicion," which is usually taken to mean he didn't want this to hinder his career. (At the time, this was normal Roman behavior
Soon after, he became governor of Spain, where he - completely without sanction from Rome - began attacking Roman allies and annexing their land, expanding the Republic throughout modern Spain. Again, he was partly motivated by the need to pay off his debtors, sending them loot to ease off his pressure.
At this point, he allied with arch-rivals Crassus and Pompey
, forming the First Triumvirate with himself as Consul, or head of state for a year, really a three-man dictatorship. Pompey, a military leader, was without doubt the most powerful in the Triumvirate, followed by the famously wealthy Crassus. At the time, Caesar was the least powerful - a forty-year old politician whose only achievement was winning a few elections. Caesar shared the Consulship with Bibulus, whose ineffective attempts to oppose the Triumvirs' agenda led to their term being jokingly called the Year of Julius and Caesar (Romans referred to a year by the Consuls' names). After establishing their authority and passing agrarian reform laws at least allegedly designed to help the poor, Caesar again went on military campaign as governor of Cis-and Transalpine Gaul and Illyria, conquering most of Gaul (France) and entering Germania across several years of campaigning, with a failed attempt to grab Britannia. While there his daughter Julia - Pompey's (very) young wife - died of illness.
Crassus had died on the campaign against the Parthians, and the Optimate (or Conservative) faction, allied with Pompey, ordered Caesar to disband his army and declared his governorship over, at the same time refusing to allow him to stand for a second consulship. They then declared him an enemy of the state. He marched on Rome, using as an excuse the mistreatment of the tribunes of the people who had presented his case to the Senate. He crossed the Rubicon, the border of Italy where Roman armies are supposed to disband (uttering the page quote), and took the city unchallenged; though he had only one legion, his enemies did not trust the newly-recruited troops raised in their defence and fled. This started the Roman Civil War, and after gathering the rest of his forces from Hispania, Caesar eventually fought and defeated Pompey at Pharsalus in 48 BC, despite being vastly outnumbered.
Caesar became dictator (a Consul with emergency powers) in Rome and chased Pompey to Egypt, where to Caesar's horror the Egyptians had had him murdered and presented Caesar with his head. In response he allied with Princess Cleopatra and overthrew the Pharaoh, her younger brother, putting her on the throne as a Roman ally. They were lovers until his death and she claimed him as the father of her son Caesarion. Caesar began defeating his remaining enemies, including the Optimate leader Cato who committed suicide - to which Caesar remarked that he would have let him live. As this was Cato
, however, that's probably why he killed himself in the first place, and given how little the two liked each other, it's plausible Caesar was mocking him.
In his absence, the Senate bestowed unto Caesar a series of honours, partly because he was so merciful - unlike Sulla, almost none of his enemies were proscribed, indeed most were pardoned (his behavior in Gaul was...less so, being extremely brutal to tribes who put up too much resistance). He began a series of reforms to alleviate the plight of the poor, overhauled the Roman calendar, and built many famous buildings. He also revived an old project of Gaius Gracchus, the rebuilding of Carthage, together with Corinth, both destroyed and famously salted a century before.
Caesar was assassinated in spectacular fashion in 44 BC by a group of rebellious senators, including his young friend Brutus, being stabbed 23 times in the senate
; though all told the senate brandished a total of 27 wounds. The line Et Tu, Brute?
is from Shakespeare, and he never said it, though he does appear to have expressed shock once he saw Brutus was one of his killers (Also, historically what ever he mumbled was likely in Greek). The exact site of Caesar's death, in a touch of historical irony, was right under the statue of his old friend and rival Pompey. This was followed by decades of civil war, mainly between his general Marc Antony and his appointed heir, Octavian
. The latter won, and The Republic
became The Empire
Caesar is a controversial figure and historians to this day are divided about him. The Republic he overthrew was extremely corrupt and increasingly ineffective, while he provided strong, stable and popular leadership. He was merciful to his (Roman) enemies and widely respected for his many talents. When he died he was either about to take personal power as the dictator, or possibly ensure reform efforts after denying the crown several times note
; it is one of the great What Ifs
of history as to what he would have done.
Yet, despite this, he was a man driven mainly by personal ambition (though he was far from the only Roman like this; on the contrary, it was basically the Roman way, at least if you were an aristocrat), and was perfectly capable of ruthlessness to get what he wanted. His campaigns were extremely brutal, possibly claiming as many as a million lives in total, with much rampant looting and slave trading. He is usually regarded by his critics as the man principally responsible for the death of democracy in Rome, though his admirers feel that Roman democracy was by that point in name only, and that Caesar did more for the common man of Rome than anyone else who could plausibly have taken power would have. He was also known to be very vain about his personal appearance, was notoriously promiscuous before, during and after his marriages, and could and would go to extreme lengths to get revenge.
The debate, then, is largely about whether his personal failings - and boy were there many - outweigh his many accomplishments, and whether or not his quest for greatness ultimately saved Rome from a corrupt aristocracy....or doomed it to centuries of tyranny. It is noteworthy that there is no evidence of him planning to become a dictator prior to the civil war or of attempting to institutionalise despotism (that was more Augustus's thing). He named Octavian (later known as Augustus) as his heir, but he didn't specifically entitle him to inherit the dictatorship. It seems more probable that he thought that his dictatorship was a personal special position and Octavian was the heir to his property and name (along with, of course, the prestige of name) only.
Recommended reading: Caesar: The Life of a Colossus
by Adrian Goldsworthy.
Works by Gaius Julius Caesar with their own pages:
Gaius Julius Caesar provides examples of the following:
- The Ace: He was a great politician, orator, lawyer, general, warrior, writer, historian and ruler.
- Affably Evil: He was very cultured (he was an aristocrat after all), could be very merciful, and generally tried to make friends out of enemies.
- Ambition Is Evil: For his detractors, Caesar is one of the classic examples.
- Antagonist in Mourning: Towards Pompey.
- Aristocrats Are Evil: Inverted and played straight. The Roman aristocracy was corrupt, self-serving and totally amoral. Caesar was their enemy - he was also exactly like them, and of their number.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: He earned his despotic dictatorship the hard way.
- Bad Ass: He was a very brave soldier, and unlike most Roman generals fought on the front lines with his men (also unlike them, he lived the same lifestyle, avoiding any privileges afforded by his class), thus earning their respect. He was also, apparently, a very good swordsman, though he did not boast of that much.
- Apparently when the first assassin stabbed at him he just grabbed the guy's arm asked him what the hell he was doing, and the assassin had to call for help. He also tried to stab back at them with only his stylus. After all the stabbings he didn't even go down till he saw Brutus. And the autopsy showed that only one wound was fatal.
- Caesar got into the Senate unusually young specifically through being a badass: at the age of 21 he won the 'Civic Crown' - Rome's second highest military decoration, awarded to those who saved another citizen's life in battle and which was sufficiently high an honour to automatically grant him a seat.
- Badass Boast: Veni, vidi, vici "I came, I saw, I conquered". His report to the Senate on the Pontus war and a post-humous Take That against Pompey, who got a bit tangled in the previous war there.
- Badass Cape: If you were a barbarian and you saw Caesar come down his horse and put on his red cape, you run.
- Badass Preacher: Twice. He was appointed Flamen Dialis before Sulla stripped him of his title, which freed him from some highly restrictive rules, thus opening the door to the army and politics, making this For Want of a Nail. He was later elected Pontifex Maximus at a very young age (before holding the consulship), probably through heavy bribery. However, Roman priests had a very different role from modern preachers, as did the state religion.
- Bald of Awesome / Bald of Evil: And he didn't like it, which is why most people don't know about it. He wasn't totally bald, but his crown was pretty bare. Towards the end of his life, he was awarded the privilege of wearing a laurel wreath whenever he felt like it, which he used to hide the baldness.
- Irony: Caesar probably comes from caesariatus, "hairy".
- Big Bad: To his enemies at least, though he did end up dictator for life, remember.
- Big Good: To a large part of the Roman Army and to the people of Rome, even while he was dictator. Rome's Jewish population, in particular, considered him their protector.
- Bi the Way: Allegedly had an affair with King Nicomedes of Bithynia, though if the number of mistresses he had is any indication, he seems to have preferred women.
- Suetonius has his legionnaires mocking him during his triumph.
Caesar may have conquered the Gauls, but Nicomedes conquered Caesar.
- The common consensus is that this was actually just Malicious Slander, a nasty Depraved Bisexual rumor spread by his enemies to hurt his political career. It didn't work, though: when taunted with being Nicomedes's "woman", Caesar calmly pointed out that many women had proven themselves capable leaders over the centuries.
- Although Suetonius did write that he "sent his toy boy named Rufio, the son of one of his freedman", and mentioned that the elder Curio referred to him in his speech as "every woman's husband, and every man's wife".
- Blood on the Debate Floor
- Bread and Circuses: A generous perpetuator of the free bread policy during his rule and also an important planned part of his triumphal parade. He was responsible for the direct implementation of such circuses during his term as aedile.
- The Casanova: Big time. He was not the only guy doing it at the time, but he was one of the most prolific. He especially seemed to like married gals, which was unfortunate because women were treated much more harshly than men when it came to adultery.
- They were usually fine though. Half the reason he chose married women was to humiliate his enemies, so their husbands preferred to keep it quiet rather than seek punishment.
- His troops (with that kind of affectionate insult soldiers like) nicknamed him "Whoremonger". When he had his triumph after conquering Gallia, they were shouting: "Men of Rome, keep close to your consorts, here's a bald adulterer! Gold in Gaul you spent in dalliance, which you borrowed here in Rome."
- His political enemies also accused him of being the 'passive' partner in homosexual liaisons - a damning slur for a patrician Roman and one he denied under oath (ironically after his death, Mark Antony made similar allegations about Octavian - with the deceased Caesar as the 'active' partner.) This was quite commonplace at the time and slung at nearly everyone. While homosexuality and bisexuality were common among patrician Romans, they were also hypocritical about it and being the 'passive' partner was considered unmanly.
- Civil War: He started one in 49 BC when he crossed the Rubicon. From his point of view, his enemies forced his hand as they passed legislation that would make him go into exile or face jail if he returned to Rome as a normal citizen.
- Color-Coded Patrician
- Compelling Voice: One of the great orators of his day, perhaps second only to Cicero.
- Cruel Mercy:
- When Cato committed suicide rather than surrender to him, Caesar remarked that he would have let him live. Given that Cato was The Stoic and made sure everyone was aware of it, especially Caesar, this probably counts as a mixture of this and Deadpan Snarker- letting him live is something Cato would have found humiliating, and though Caesar might have spared him anyway, the two really hated each other and he probably would have gotten a good night's sleep knowing that he'd got that over him.
- Some historians have noted that Cato's sacrifice becomes a Stupid Sacrifice in hindsight. Once Caesar died, Cato would have been in an immensely strong position.
- Standard Roman policy towards rebellious towns was basically omnicidal. Caesar once got so sick to death with one town that he settled for chopping the right hands off every single adult man in the town so they would never rise up again. Everybody was amazed at the man's leniency! He chopped the right hand off every single adult male in the town. But... As slow agonizing death via crucifixion was a popular option, yes, he was being lenient.
- Part of his history had him captured and ransomed by pirates. He immediately came back with an army and had them all crucified (and took back his ransom), but before he did so, he had the pirate's throats cut as a Mercy Kill to spare them the unpleasant death via crucifixion.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Despotism Justifies the Means
- Note that nothing in his recorded life prior to the Civil War indicates that he was planning to take over the republic, and why he chose to start the war was because it was that or complete political demise. Also once he was dictator he wasn't a particularly tyrannous one, certainly not even close to what Sulla was. His laws are famous for favoring the lower classes at the expense of the higher ones, the popularis that he was.
- Suetonius claims that, when he was aedile, Caesar had plotted with Marcus Crassus, Publius Sulla and Lucius Autronius to storm the Senate, kill the Senators and seize power (with Caesar as second-in-command). Crassus apparently chickened out and they did not go through with the plot.
- Defeat Means Friendship: He generally pardoned and promoted his defeated political enemies. This eventually led to his death, as Brutus and Cassius were among them.
- The Emperor: An example of an Unbuilt Trope. Although he amassed an impressive amount of personal power, and was frequently accused of trying to claim kingship (an absolute no-no in Roman eyes), Caesar, always hamstrung by republican institutions, never managed to become the absolute ruler of Rome. (Incidentally, "Caesar", and variations to include "Kaiser", "Tzar", and "Czar", would later become a title for Emperors in various countries in Europe, or informally in the US for a person appointed to coordinate a particular national policy. Yes, in some languages, he's the Trope Namer.)
- The Engineer: One of his feats include the quick construction of a bridge on the river Rhine for his campaign in Germany. He relied more on siege and attrition warfare than on field battles and direct assaults. See also the Battle of Alesia mentioned above.
- Et Tu, Brute?: The Trope Namer via Shakespeare, see Famous Last Words below for details on the actual phrase.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Reportedly wept when he saw the head of his old ally/enemy Pompey in Egypt, and thought their treatment of the body barbarous. Then again, Caesar was more outraged that a barbarian Egyptian would dare kill a Roman citizen than from any good feelings he had about Pompey. Anyway, Pompey was his son-in-law, and Pompey's death was quite a waste in a potential ally to say the least, which was Caesar's usual MO with Defeat Means Friendship. Especially since he actually counted Pompey as one of his best friends. Of course, he later had the 13-year old Pharaoh killed, and had done much worse in his time, so the trope is probably inverted.
- Everybody Did It: Killed by a swarm of assassins, each wielding a knife.
- Evil Empire: Expanding the Roman borders aggressively, even into allied nations. Although it wasn't exactly The Empire until after his death.
- Face Death with Dignity: According to Suetonius, while he was being murdered, he drew his robe "to his feet with his left hand, in order to fall more decently, with the lower part of his body also covered." According to Plutarch, he pulled his toga over his head.
- Famous Last Words: "Και σύ, τέκνον;" (Kai su, teknon?), "You, too, my son?" to Brutus in Greek.
- And popularly from Shakespeare, we get Et tu, Brute? ("You too, Brutus?") — the Bard depicting Caesar's lapse into Greek (the language of educated Romans) by having him lapse into Latin (the language of educated Elizabethans). Oh and Shakespeare at most barely knew Greek.
- The "You too" line is now thought not to be a question the way Shakespeare spun it, but more along the lines of "May the same thing happen to you."
- Beam Me Up, Scotty!: According to Suetonius and Plutarch, Caesar expired silently, though Suetonius mentions the tradition of "Kai su, teknon" said to Brutus. But both have Caesar saying stuff just before he gets stabbed, or at the very start of the act.
- A Father to His Men: Most accounts of the man have his soldiers willing to go beyond the already impressive bounds of Roman loyalty for him, so much a man of the people was he.
- Frontline General: Very much his style in battle, reinforcing his men's loyalty in the process.
- Gambit Pileup: Rome was a vipers nest of rival ambitions. He was far from the only character plotting to overthrow the Republic, or increase personal power or glory, to say nothing of the men trying to stop people like him. Schemers include Crassus, Cicero, Pompey, Catilina, Clodius, Cato and many others, and Caesar allied with, fought against, and allied with again pretty much very one of these characters.
- Glory Seeker
- A God Am I: He claimed descent from Venus and was nearly deified during his lifetime; rumour said that he did not really die but Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence. His successor Octavian established a full-fledged cult of the "Divine Julius".
- Grey and Gray Morality: While Caesar was seen as an enemy of the Republic by his political opponents, those opponents were the ones who opposed his entirely rational and beneficial initiatives out of principle of opposing Caesar. While neither side could exactly claim the moral high ground by today's standards, Caesar was the one who at least pretended to be rational. It's also important to remember that modern Western values, while descendants of the Roman culture, are very different from the Roman Republic's ethics.
- Groin Attack: According to Plutarch, Brutus stabbed him there.
- I Coulda Been a Contender: Apparently he sank into something of a depression on seeing a statue of Alexander the Great in Spain and reflecting that by the time Alexander was his age, he had conquered the known world. Of course, this was before Caesar's great triumphs in Gaul.
- I Gave My Word: To some pirates who kidnapped him and failed to ask for a high enough ransom. His promise was he would seem them crucified, and he did. A somewhat darker version of this trope.
- Impoverished Patrician: He started out his career with an impressive lineage... and not much else. However, he managed to build up a great personal fortune over his lifetime, making this a Subverted Trope.
- It Is Pronounced Tro PAY: In classical Latin, his name is properly pronounced Guy-oos Yoo-li-oos Kai-sar, making him the Trope Namer for the royal titles of Kaiser and Tsar, by extension.
- Just the First Citizen: Though he probably would have preferred to be king.
- Kavorka Man: His sexual conquests were rather extensive. His legionaries are even reputed to have sung a charming little ditty during his return to Rome after the campaign in Gaul:
To Rome we bring the conquering hero
Roman maiders lock your doors!
For all the gold the Senate gave him,
Went to pay for Gallic whores!
- Kill 'em All: He boasted of having killed five million Gauls and enslaved three million. It was an exaggeration: he probably only killed one million and enslaved two million.
- Law of Inverse Fertility: His Roman wives never gave him a masculine child while Cleoptra quickly procured one, although an illegitimate heir according to Roman custom.
- Man of Wealth and Taste: In the beginning of his career, he wasn't wealthy, but he was a man of taste and borrowed stupendous amounts of money to give this image. Later on he reinforced this image by actually being wealthy, and he was famous for inventing new trends and was very careful about his appearance (he was very sensitive about his balding). He wasn't evil per se but certainly fits the trope.
- May-December Romance: With Cleopatra. He was old enough to be her father. Also with his third wife, Calpurnia, who was 25 years younger than him.
- Military Maverick: His war against the Gauls was technically illegal; he was only tasked with the defense of his province, Cisalpine Gaul but once the Helvetii posed a threat to the province he went on conquering sprees against all the neighbouring tribes for reassurance. His victory surely resulted in the ultimate defense but he lacked a direct mandate from the Senate. His term as Praetor in Hispania displayed a similar behavior. It was customary for a Roman governor to embark in such adventures as they were entitled to the booty and profits, often from enslaving the vanquished.
- Momma's Boy: His mother Aurelia played a big part in his life, and definitely encouraged his political ambitions. As she was from an influential family she also provided many contacts. She was a strong willed, no-nonsense kind of women, and he loved her very much.
- Moral Myopia: His reputation of being merciful to his enemies did not extend to non-Roman citizens. While he didn't go out of his way to brutalise foreigners, he had zero compunctions about doing so either. His total kill count is somewhere in the region of a million Gauls and he enslaved perhaps twice that much, mostly for personal glory and to pay off his debts, and even attacked Roman allies to this end. In addition, his own career came above all else and he divorcing his wives or changing allegiances in the pursuit of advancement, or sleeping with another guys wife just to get an edge over him without regard for the reputation of either man or woman.
- Name's the Same and Dead Guy Junior:
- Gaius shares his name with his father and grandfather, who are now obscure figures. His daughter was named Julia. Roman naming was uncreative, to put it mildly.
- Octavian inherited (or appropriated) his full name, becoming Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus.
- Narcissist: Caesar was very vain about his personal appearance, motivated largely by a quest for personal fame and ambition, willing to Rape, Pillage, and Burn other nations- Roman allies included- to pay off his debts and achieve military and political glory, and ultimately set himself up as dictator for life with possible monarchical ambitions. He was also a serial womaniser and adulterer with little regard for the damage his philandering caused, and sometimes went out of his way to cause it in order to embarrass or blackmail a political opponent. While much of this behaviour wasn't exactly new in Roman society, Caesar did take it further than most.
- Nice Hat: Early in his career Caesar won the Civic Crown (''corona civica'') for saving the life of a fellow soldier in battle.
- Late in his career, he was awarded the privilege of wearing a laurel wreath whenever he wanted to. See the Bald of Awesome/Evil example.
- Noble Fugitive: During Sulla's purge of the Marians. He was eventually spared.
- Non-Indicative Name: The family name Caesar (probably) derives from the Latin word for 'hairy' as a nickname for a hirsute ancestor. Julius Caesar himself suffered from premature balding, something his political opponents had much fun with.
- One of Us: He wrote fan fiction about Hercules and Oedipus in his youth.
- The Pen Is Mightier: One ancient source claimed that he stabbed one of his assassins with his stylus before dying.
- Caesar was also a very good writer, the terse and no-nonsense style (i.e. even the barely literate can appreciate his writing) he used managed to disguise one hell of a lot of self-serving propaganda. His Commentaries on the Gallic War managed to win over most most of Roman commoners despite the fact that he was not even in Rome proper most of time.
- Perfectly Arranged Marriage: There's some indirect evidence he may have been genuinely close to his first wife Cornelia. He refused to divorce her even at the cost of losing his wealth and being declared an enemy of the state, and he gave a public oration praising her at her funeral.
- Photographic Memory: Allegedly, he could remember the face, the name and sometimes a few facts from the personal life of every soldier in his army.
- Power Trio: Caesar benefited greatly from the First Triumvirate when he was a still a rising star. His friend Crassus provided a generous financial backing, Pompey political protection and legitimacy, while Caesar's charisma among the people allowed for a smooth rule. The three prominent men dominated Roman politics completely for seven years until Crassus' death in 53 BC.
- Propaganda Machine: Most of his writings are biased, self-serving, and designed to paint his actions in the best possible light, making him a one-man example of this trope. This makes him exactly like every other Roman politician, bar none. It helps that he was one of the great Roman authors, writing in a deceptively simple Latin intended to get his message across to the widest audience. His contemporary Cicero was at least as bad about it.
- Actually, compared to most of the Roman politicians he comes across like Walter Cronkite. They made wild accusations, and he manages to sound unbiased and factual because he's at least somewhat in line with reality.
- However biased the attitude in his writings was, he couldn't lie a lot because the senate would hear the story from other sources as well, such as tribunes and legati serving in his army and visitors from Rome.
- The Purge:
- Mostly averted and a rarity in Roman politics, especially when compared with contemporaries such as Sulla. He pardoned many of his enemies and this turned out to be his undoing as many of his would-be assassins were men he spared.
- After Caesar's demise, the Second Triumvirate, made up of his supporters and heirs (Antony, Octavian, Lepidus) did not repeat the mistake and launched a massive purge of their enemies.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Red to Crassus's Blue, but the Blue to Pompey's red.
- School Study Media: If you take Latin, you WILL read Caesar. There's no avoiding it. Repeat after me, "Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres..."
- Signature Line: See top of the page for two. And of course his Famous Last Words.
- Sleazy Politician: Caesar sometimes seems to resemble a modern politician in his concern with vote-buying, etc. Par for the course in the late Republic, of course. And lets not forget his extensive womanising.
- Take Over the World: Or the world as he knew it, anyway. At the time of his death he was plotting conquest in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, purely out of personal ambition.
- Note that the previous war had been a very unpopular and controversial civil war, and winning foreign wars, he hoped, would've brought him unquestionable glory. One could probably say that he saw wars purely as a means for getting personal glory in the eyes the people and the senate and didn't so much wage war for its own sake or to personally rule vast amounts of territory.
- Well, there was a potential threat from the native tribes of Ilyricum (East Europe) which he had probably meant to address even before his Gallic campaign, and the previous campaign against Parthia (in the East) ended in a humiliating defeat for the Romans, the death of the commander (Crassus) and the loss of the legions' standards. Making them pay would have been a very popular move. Plus, he was probably bored.
- Take a Third Option: Caesar was infamous for defying conventional wisdom (both military and political) time and time again. One noteworthy example was when Cato the Younger attempted to prevent Caesar's application for consul along with delaying his triumph by filibustering the senate's business until the deadline for application had passed, figuring that Caesar would never pass up the triumph and would be forced to wait for the next year's consular elections. Caesar gave Cato and the conservatives the proverbial middle finger by skipping the triumph and going straight for the elections.
- Theres No Kill Like Overkill: He was stabbed 23 times. However, according to Suetonius, only one of his wounds was fatal.
- Third-Person Person: In his accounts about the Gallic Wars and the Civil War, he referred to himself in third person, following a classical tradition of all autobiographical works before the Middle Ages. In modern depictions, this is often turned into a confusing Verbal Tic Played for Laughs.
- Übermensch: Probably one of the main inspirations.
- Unreliable Narrator: His first-hand account on the Gaul war, De Bello Gallico, understandably glosses over his least brilliant moments such as the unreliable Gaul allied cavalry, the first Briton campaign, his punitive expedition to Germany, Gergovia etc, sometimes applying the Leeroy Jenkins, strategic victory / Tactical Withdrawal perspective. The trend is continued in the follow-up books about the civil war but it's believed those weren't actually written by Caesar.
- War for Fun and Profit: Mainly profit and personal glory.
- Warrior Poet: Caesar was a vigorous writer, especially during his campaigns. Ironically enough, it is from the Commentarii de Bello Gallico—an eight-book account of the Gallic Wars written during Caesar's nine-year campaign to conquer the Gauls—that we derive much of our knowledge of ancient European tribes, customs, and religions. Had Caesar not warred against them, such things would likely be lost to history.
- During the civil war Caesar wrote a treatise on Latin, called De Analogia, in addition to poetry.
- We Used to Be Friends: Caesar and Pompey were very close associates during the First Triumvirate. They fell apart when Caesar's daughter and Pompey's wife died and the Senate persuaded Pompey to go against him.
- Who's Laughing Now?: What happened when Caesar carried out his death threat against the pirates who kidnapped him.
Caesar in fiction
- William Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar is about Caesar's assassination and its aftermath. Caesar is the title character, but not the protagonist; he appears in only three scenes.
- In the 1953 film adaptation in the play, he's played by Louis Calhern.
- Karl Urban played Caesar in a recurring role on Xena: Warrior Princess and a one-off episode of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. Having been Xena's one time ally, and lover, his betrayal (and crucifixion) of her led to Xena's warlord days, the time of her life which she spent the series atoning for.
- Notably, Xena was the leader of the pirates who ransomed him (see above).
- George Bernard Shaw's play, Caesar and Cleopatra depicts Caesar's time in Egypt and his relationship with Cleopatra. In the 1945 film adaptation, he's played by Claude Rains.
- He's played by John Gavin in Stanley Kubrick's Spartacus.
- He's played by Rex Harrison in the 1963 film Cleopatra.
- He's played by Klaus Maria Brandauer in Druids.
- The first season of the HBO miniseries Rome is about Caesar's rise and fall. He's portrayed by Ciarán Hinds.
- In Astérix, Caesar is the main antagonist (always portrayed as an Anti-Villain, due to being based on his image in the school-taught Commentaries).
- Appears very often in Alix, as the main character works for him.
- He's a central character in Colleen McCullough's Masters of Rome series.
- Conn Iggulden's Emperor series details a Very Loosely Based on a True Story version of Julius' life and conquests, from childhood all the way to death. Despite the obvious implications of Adaptation Decay, he actually averts this with some very detailed research notes in the appendices of each book and explaining his decisions to eliminate, change, or combine certain figures for the sake of a good story.
- He appears in Steven Saylor's Roma Sub Rosa series.
- He appears in John Maddox Roberts' SPQR series.
- He's mentioned in I, Claudius, although he has been dead for about 20 years when the story begins.
- Played by Timothy Dalton in the Cleopatra mini-series.
- The last missions of the Roman campaign in Empire Earth: Art of Conquest were about his rise to power.
- He plays a major role in The Salvation War, as the leader of "New Rome" in human-liberated Hell.
- He appears in Imperium and Lustrum, Robert Harris's novels about Cicero.
- In the Susan Howatch novel The Rich Are Different, the story of Julius Caesar is retold in a 1920's Wall Street setting.
- Edward "Caesar" Sallow from Fallout: New Vegas modeled his band of tribes after the Roman Legions after reading the Commentarii and fancied himself as great a man as Gaius Julius Caesar was.
- In Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, the Scrolls of Romulus chronicle Brutus' plan to assassinate Caesar, with the equipment and knowledge provided to carry out the assassination provided by a Piece of Eden hidden in a First Civilization bunker underneath Rome.
- Caesar is the Ultimate Persona of Akihiko Sanada in Persona 3 and serves as his used Persona in Persona 4 Arena
- Also Caesar is a very important character in Ben Kane's series The Forgotten Legion.
- The aftermath of his assassination is the backdrop for the History Bites episode "Who Killed JFC?"
- Caesar is a regular character in Spartacus: War of the Damned, where he fights in the army of Marcus Crassus against Spartacus' slave uprising. He's introduced as a low-ranking politician with a famous name, as well as a cunning soldier, favors Anything That Moves, and a rival both of Crassus' son, Tiberius and the rebel Gannicus. Which was unfortunate for them.
- In the cartoon Time Squad Julius Caesar is a fat and lazy ruler who almost left Rome in complete shambles. Oh and he also sounded like Louie Anderson.
- In Girls und Panzer, Takako Suzuki cosplays as, and answers to, "Caesar," making references to Caesar's life and Roman history, like her three teammates in Turtle Team do with their respective historical figures.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! features the Monarchs, a series of powerful cards based on the Emperors of Rome. The most powerful, Caius, appears to be derived from Gaius himself.