Julius Caesar was born in 100 BCE (in what would become the month of July), to a Patrician family that was prestigious but not particularly wealthy. It was for this reason that Caesar grew up in what was basically a middle-class neighborhood. His mother managed an Insula, which was like...
Julius Caesar was born in 100 BCE (in what would become the month of July), to a Patrician family that was prestigious but not particularly wealthy. It was for this reason that Caesar grew up in what was basically a middle-class neighborhood. His mother managed an Insula, which was like a Roman apartment building. This enabled Caesar to learn a lot of languages and cultures from a young age, a skill that would prove instrumental to his career.
Caesar’s father might not have been rich, but his mother was intelligent, and his aunt was married to Gaius Marius, one of the most influential figures in Roman history. The effects of Julius Caesar and his family on Roman politics and history is hard to overstate. Rome definitely went through a bit of a rough patch during Caesar’s youth and young adulthood because of a feud between Marius and Sulla. That is how Caesar somehow ended up a priest, married a girl far younger than him, and entered the army.
Historians debate the effectiveness of Caesar’s military campaigns, but he definitely made himself very wealthy and filled Rome's coffers. He made some controversial moves, too. His most successful campaigns were in Gaul (mostly modern-day France). Caesar worked his way up. He was hardworking and intelligent. He served lower-level positions in Roman politics and government, including quaestor and praetor, before being consul, which was the highest office, on January 1, 44 BCE—the same year he was assassinated.
The biggest controversy involving Caesar was his march on Rome in 49 BCE. This was a result of his disagreement with Pompey (who happened to be married to his daughter Julia), and resulted in the bloody civil war that caused much of the senate to flee. It did not make Caesar popular. His rule was rocky. He was dictator, but he claimed his goal was to make Rome stable. When he followed Pompey to Egypt, Caesar learned the Egyptians had killed him already, and Caesar had to settle a dispute there, too. It involved putting Cleopatra on the throne. Caesar also fathered a son with her. Caesarean was Caesar’s only acknowledged son by birth, but he was not considered legally legitimate in Rome.
In 44 BC, a group of senators assassinated Julius Caesar publicly and violently. Caesar’s Master of the Horse was Mark Antony, a hot-headed distant relative of his. Antony was loyal to Caesar, and high-placed politically. He expected to be named Caesar’s successor. When Caesar named his grand-nephew Octavius (Octavian) his heir, it caused a stir.
Antony and Octavius Caesar battled it out until they decided to join forces and track down the rest of the assassins instead of fighting each other. That resulted in another bloody civil war for Rome, and then some quiet rule where Rome was ruled by a triumvirate of Antony, Octavius, and Lepidus. Conflict emerged again. Eventually, Octavius Caesar defeated Antony and became the sole leader of Rome. He was the first Roman emperor, Augustus.