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Why is Julius Caesar historically significant?

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By the time Julius Caesar became a major figure in the political life of Rome, the Republic was already doomed. Indeed, it was already a vast, unwieldy Empire which had at its center not a strong and stable Emperor but a de facto oligarchy of scheming aristocrats and plutocrats, constantly jockeying for position and failing to pay attention to the needs of the state.

While Caesar's personality and character are hotly disputed, it is an obvious irony that the man whose name has become synonymous with royalty, giving rise to the titles of Czar in Russia and Kaiser in Germany, is the one leader who might possibly have restored the Republic. While Caesar was unquestionably a great general, he was less politically astute than Augustus, who pretended to restore the Republic while concentrating power in his own hands.

The greatest historical significance of Julius Caesar, therefore, is a negative one. He upset the Roman aristocracy enough to get himself assassinated, and the Republic died with him.

Caesar is such a colossal figure, however, that even fairly minor episodes in his career had far-reaching consequences. One of these, a disaster for human civilization, occurred in 48 BCE when Caesar was besieged at Alexandria. His troops started a fire which burned a large portion of the most important library in the world at the time. We do not know quite what we lost, but when you consider that it is now possible to put all the major Greek texts on a couple of shelves, the loss of perhaps 40,000 scrolls is astonishing. To take two obvious examples, Empedocles was one of the most influential philosophers of the ancient world, but we do not have his works. Sophocles wrote well over 100 plays, of which we have seven. This was not a glorious episode in Caesar's career, but it was undeniably significant.

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Julius Caesar is historically significant because he was an instrumental part of the fall of the Republic of Rome and the birth of the Roman Empire. He is an actual historical figure. There are many primary source writings about him that historians can study. While he is important for the history of Rome, in many ways Julius Caesar is significant in the history of the world too.

Caesar was a skilled and charismatic military leader. Because of this, he was very popular with most Romans. However, this popularity made him the subject of envy for many members of the Roman elite. Caesar used skillful military strategy and tactics to conquer several nations, and Caesar's military techniques are still studied today. As a result of Caesar's conquest, the territorial holdings of Rome were greatly increased. These conquests spread Roman thought and ideas around the region.

After a generation of civil wars, Caesar seized supreme power for himself. He was declared dictator for life upon returning to Rome. His term in office lasted only a year though. During this year, Caesar made significant changes to Rome. He reformed the Senate to make it more representative, had Carthage and Corinth rebuilt, instituted a more accurate calendar, and expanded Roman citizenship in the provinces.

After he was assassinated in 44 BC, Rome descended into a series of civil wars. Eventually, Caesar's heir, Octavian, emerged as the victor. Octavian became Rome's first emperor, and he was known as Augustus. Rome remained an empire after.

Caesar is studied today as an example of a style of leadership. His charisma and victories were able to win over many allies. He was able to galvanize a lot of support among his base of power. However, he still had enemies. He is a character to examine when studying how great nations rise and fall.

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Julius Caesar is important because he marks the end of the Roman Republic. During Caesar's life, the Republic was in a state of crisis. Its system of administration had evolved from when Rome was a city with a small surrounding agricultural area. By the time of Caesar's birth, due to the Punic Wars and successive wars of conquest, Rome had become a vast empire, but the political and administrative mechanisms had not kept up with the needs of the growing empire. The imperial system introduced by Caesar was a partial solution to civic turmoil and administrative insufficiency.

Next, Caesar was a great military leader who was responsible for the conquest of Gaul, the Roman military intervention in Britain, and the expansion of Roman territory.

Finally, during the century before Caesar assumed power, there had been increasing conflict between the "patricians" (aristocrats) and plebeians (free citizens who were not wealthy). The aristocrats often were unscrupulous, stealing land from plebeians and using the Senate to prevent land reform. Caesar's weakening of the Senate was popular with the plebeians because he took their side and offered a social safety net.

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Julius Caesar is historically significant mostly because he was the main driving force behind the demise of the Roman Republic and the creation of the Roman imperial system.

Caesar was born in 100 BCE and was killed in 44 BCE.  This was at a time of great upheaval in the Roman Republic.  For instance, it was in 82 BCE that Sulla took control of Rome and instituted his reign of terror.  From then on, Roman politics was in a state of constant conflict and even civil war.

Julius Caesar tried to end this chaos.  Eventually, his solution was to take power for himself.  It is hard to know from this far in the future whether he was really power hungry or whether he was actually motivated by a desire to make Rome more stable.

Whatever his motives, Caesar's actions led to the end of the Roman Republic.  This is what makes him most historically significant.

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What makes Julius Caesar historically significant?

Julius Caesar was a Roman leader of amazing physical and mental energy who possessed unmatched military power.  Caesar's conquest of Gaul in 51 B.C. extended Rome's territory to the English Channel.  He  was the first Roman general to build a bridge across the Rhine River; he also conducted the first invasion of Britain. Caesar and Pompey Marcus Licinius Crassus formed a powerful political alliance known as the First Triumvirate that dominated politics in Rome for years. Later, elected as one of the two consuls who headed the Roman government, a term of office that began in 59 B. C., and Caesar's career stemmed from this Consulship; he effected many political reforms of Roman government and society.

However, Caesar and Pompey's relationship deteriorated and political realignments in Rome led to conflict between the two leaders.  When Pompey took up the cause of the Senate, its members ordered Caesar to stand trial in Rome for sundry charges.  With his legions, Caesar, having learned of this decision, marched from Gaul to Italy.  After his crossing of the Rubicon in 49 B.C., a civil war was sparked; from this war, Caesar rose to become the uncontested leader of the Roman world.

Absolutely brillant in so many facets, Caesar dazzled his contemporaries, and historians continue to be fascinated by him because of this amazing military acumen as well as his impressive political power.

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How influential was Julius Caesar historically?

One needs only glance through a calendar to be reminded of this great Roman ruler: the month of July reminds us of this great Roman, as well. For, it was he who revised previous calendars and added two month in the middle so that the seasons would fall at the same times each year. Caesar also lengthend the number of days in the year from 355 to 365; however, this calendar miscalculated the solar system by eleven minutes. Because these few minutes threw off the calendar, after 1582, the Gregorian calendar that followed fixed the discrepancy by adopting the use of leap years.

Certainly, by the fact that the name of Julius Caesar is yet familiar to people around the globe, underscores the significance of Caesar as a figure in history. His great expansion of the Roman empire brought with it aqueducts, roads, walls, military tactics and ways of government that are yet evident in many European countries. For instance, Julius Caesar encouraged entertainment for all people, and he had some entitlement programs that fed the poor. Caesar also provided the plebians access to the newspapers that heretofore were only available to noblemen (these "newspapers" were engraved in stone). So, there are strategies that Caesar used which are still in use today in some governments. On the other side, Caesar's abuse of power stands as a model that modern leaders should learn from lest they suffer a familiar fate as he. After Caesar's death Cicero Stated this about Caesar,

"Our tyrant deserved to die. Here was a man who wanted to be king of the Roman people and master of the whole world. Those who agree with an ambition like this must also accept the destruction of existing laws and freedoms. It is not right or fair to want to be king in a state that used to be free and ought to be free today."  

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