Julius Caesar was born to a Roman patrician family in 100 B.C.E.
Early on, Caesar proved to be a smart and decisive leader. He was very popular and rose to the position of Pontifex Maximus at the age of 37 in 63 B.C.E.
At this time, the republic was in trouble. Three people were trying to take control of it, including Caesar.
Crassus was a wealthy and powerful Roman. He was made consul in 70 B.C.E. Crassus is most famous for putting down the slave revolt led by Spartacus in 71 B.C.E.
Spartacus was a gladiator who escaped and then led a slave revolt for two years. He freed other slaves and built his army up to roughly 70,000, terrorizing the Roman countryside.
Crassus finally put down the revolt in 71 B.C.E. As a warning to all, Crassus crucified the slaves, one every 30 yards along the Appian Way from Rome for 100 miles to Capua.
Also seeking power was the great General Pompey. Pompey was a famous general conquering many places, including Judea. He was consul along with Crassus in 70 B.C.E.
Caesar had also proven himself and was elected consul in 59 B.C.E.
Caesar, Pompey and Crassus informally decided to share the power to control Rome. This agreement is known as the First Triumvirate.
It was not an easy alliance. Caesar was given a military command in Gaul where he expanded Roman territory to the Rhine in modern Germany and across the English Channel to Britain.
Crassus led a military campaign in Persia but was killed in 53 B.C.E.
With Crassus gone, Caesar and Pompey competed against each other for control. In 49 B.C.E., Pompey convinced the Senate to pass a law that declared Caesar would be prosecuted as a criminal if he returned to Rome.
As Caesar crossed the border into Italy with his army, technically making him a hostile invader, he is alleged to have said, “The die is cast.”
Caesar attacked Pompey’s forces swiftly and ran them out of Rome. He tried to cut Pompey off as they fled Italy but he was too late.
Pompey reassembled his army in Greece while Caesar went back to Rome to shore up his political support. Then he went after Pompey again.
First, Caesar attacked Pompey supporters in Spain. Then, he shocked Pompey again by sailing seven legions into Greece in the dead of winter.
Although Pompey’s army was twice as big as Caesar’s, and his cavalry seven times that of Caesar’s, Pompey was too cautious and used neither to his advantage.
Pompey fled to Egypt where he was killed as soon as he stepped off the boat.
At the time, Ptolemy XIII and his sister, Cleopatra were fighting for the throne of Egypt. In an attempt to acquire Caesar’s allegiance, Ptolemy had Pompey’s head cut off and presented it to Caesar as a gift.
Caesar was not pleased to receive the head of his one time friend and subsequent rival. He placed Cleopatra on the throne.
Caesar returned to Rome in 47 B.C.E. to settle the remnants of the civil war and unify the Roman world under his control.
Caesar solidified his control over Rome and all of its territories. He made himself dictator perpetuus— dictator for life—in 44 B.C.E.
Many Romans were uncomfortable with Caesar’s dictatorship and authoritarian control. They feared that the republic was coming to an end.
As a result, many Senators conspired to assassinate Caesar shortly before he was to embark on a military campaign in the east.
On the Ides of March, March 15 th, the Senators requested Julius Caesar to meet with them, which he did near the Theatre of Pompey.
Beware the Ides of March. At the foot of the statue of his old rival, Pompey, some 60 Senators stabbed Julius Caesar to death.
Although the Senators thought that they would be hailed for saving the republic, the public was enraged and a long civil war ensued. The republic would never recover.