Who Was Julius Caesar?
Julius Caesar (12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC), was a Roman general and statesman, who founded the Roman Empire. Caesar helped to build ancient Rome into a mighty empire. The name Caesar became the Russian word tsar (or czar) and the German kaiser. Both mean “emperor.”
His father died when Caesar was 16. Although he was born into a patrician (aristocratic) family, he supported the common people in politics, as a young man he was a member of the popular party. Caesar studied public speaking and later entered politics. In 59 BC he was elected consul, the highest public office in ancient Rome. He became more and more powerful politically, and in 600 BC set up the First Triumvirate (government headed by three people) with Pompey and Crassus. As one of two consuls, he ruled the Roman state for one year.
He then left Rome to govern a Roman province in Gaul (modern France). In nine years of fighting he brought all of Gaul under Roman rule. His successes in Gaul and his campaigns in Britain confirmed his reputation as a brilliant military leader. Caesar returned to Italy in January of 49 BC and made himself dictator. Five years of civil war between Caesar’s forces and the supporters of the popular general Pompey followed. Pompey fled to Egypt and died there before Caesar could catch him. But Caesar continued to fight and win battles against Pompey’s supporters.
When he returned to Rome, Caesar pardoned his old enemies and gained many supporters. He began a program of important reforms, but his enemies, fearing that he wanted to become king, conspired against him. Caesar was assassinated in the Senate (supreme council of state) on the Ides of March (15 march), 44 BC. Sixty senators agreed to a plan to kill Caesar among them was Caesar’s friend Marcus Junius Brutus. As he died, Caesar said, “Et tu, Brute?” (“You too, Brutus?”).