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Quotes / Julius Caesar

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Caesar has gone down in history as the man who crossed the Rubicon, plunging the Roman world into chaos in a gamble whereby he would either win or lose all. It is a mistake to see him as all that different from his opponents or most of the other prominent Romans of the first century BC. It is equally unwise to see the key players in this and other crises as acting only on rational considerations. All were gamblers in their way, and all certainly were afraid of the consequences of defeat and reluctant to trust personal enemies. The spectre of military dictatorship and the proscriptions was always there, as was the memory of other less well-organised massacres and executions. Nor was there much within the mentality of the Roman elite to encourage compromise...Caesar tried to change this. In 49 BC he feared falling into the hands of his rivals, just as they were terrified of his returning at the head of an army. In each case the fears may have been ungrounded, but that did not make them less real. Once the war began Caesar paraded his clemency, sparing defeated enemies and in time allowing them to resume their careers. This was calculated policy, intended to win over the uncertain and deter the enemy from fighting to the death, but that does not reduce the contrast with his opponents or earlier victors. After he had won, the pardoned Pompeians were allowed back into public life and some treated very well indeed. Once again he clearly felt that this was more likely to persuade them and others to accept his dictatorship. Regardless of his motives, there was a generosity about Caesar’s behaviour that was matched by no other Roman who came to power in similar circumstances. In the same way, while his lifelong backing for popular causes was intended to win support, at the same time he did implement a number of measures that were in the interest of a wide part of the population.
Adrian Goldsworthy, Caesar: Life of a Colossus'

Caesar had a shrewd eye for his public image, and the 'Commentaries' is a carefully contrived justification of his conduct and parade of his military skills. But is is also an early example of what we might call imperial ethnography. Unlike Cicero, whose letters from Cilicia betray no interest whatsoever in the local surroundings, Caesar was deeply engaged with the foreign customs he witnessed, from the drinking habits of the Gauls, including the barbaric prohibition of wine among some tribes, to the religious rituals of the Druids. His is a wonderfully Roman vision of people whom he clearly did not entirely understand, but it still forms the basic reference point for modern discussions of the culture of pre-Roman northern Europe — an irony, given that it was a culture he was in the process of changing for ever...Caesar had ended up bringing more territory under Roman control than Pompey had in the East and crossing over what Romans called 'the Ocean', the waterway that separated the known world from the great unknown, to set foot briefly on the remote and exotic island of Britian...In doing this, Caesar laid the foundations for the political geography of modern Europe, as well as slaughtering up to a million people over the whole region. It would be wrong to imagine the Gauls were peace-loving innocents...Yet the mass killing of those who stood in Caesar's way was more than even some Romans could take. Cato, driven partly no doubt by his enmity of Caesar and speaking from partisan as well as humanitarian motives, suggested that he should be handed over for trial to those tribes whose women and children he had put to death. Pliny the Elder, trying later to arrive at a headcount for Caesar's victims, seems strikingly modern in accusing him of 'a crime against humanity'.
Mary Beard, SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome.

Veni, Vidi, Vici (I came, I saw, I conquered)
Caesar, on his brief war with Pharnaces II

"For the immortal gods are accustomed at times to grant favorable circumstances and long impunity to men whom they wish to punish for their crime, so that they may smart the more severely from a change of fortune."
Caesar in his writings in his book Commentarii de Bello Gallico

''O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth,
That I am meek and gentle with these butchers!
Thou art the ruins of the noblest man
That ever lived in the tide of times.
Woe to the hand that shed this costly blood!''
Marc Antony, Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene 1

"Et tu, Brute? Then, fall, Caesar."
Julius Caesar 's dying words, Act III, Scene 1


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