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Professor Linda Hall Julius Caesar: The Model Politician and General HIST 382

Caius Julius Caesar is by far the most famous Roman figure. Known for his ruthlessness and skill,

Caesar led armies to victory while quickly climbing up Rome’s political ladder. Caesar so influenced the

people that he was named dictator for life. The Romans valued military success and public speaking skills

in a good politician and Caesar offered that.

As a soldier in his younger days, Caesar was courageous on the battlefield, earning several

distinctions and honors. As a general and governor he conquered Gaul. Caesar undertook a campaign to

subdue the rebellious tribes in Gaul which threatened Rome and her allies. Shortly after, invading

Germans threatened the peace. Caesar easily defeated them. A little while later another rebellion arose,

and Caesar, after some difficulty, quelled the rebellion. Caesar had brought all of Gaul under Roman

control. During the Civil War, Caesar defeated Rome’s best general, Pompey, though he was heavily


Caesar was a clever politician and knew how to win the hearts of the voters. He used his familial

relationship to Marius to raise support. He earned the peoples support by hosting games and even

furnishing gladiators at his own expense. He worked out a profitable marriage alliance with two of

Rome’s most powerful figures at the time, Pompey and Crassus. He formed a triumvirate which

eventually led to his being elected consul.

In the face of danger, Caesar, even as a child, was confident and unaffected by fear. Caesar had

been captured by pirates while travelling. While he was there captive, he acted like their superiors. He

played in sports with them, ordered them to be quiet when he went to bed, he even threatened to

crucify them, which he eventually did.

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Ceasar’s ambitions led to his quick scaling of the political ladder. His first office in politics was as

a military tribune. He progressed up the chain to quaestor. His third came when he ambitiously

challenged two prominent figures for the office of pontifex maximus. He became governor of Spain and

won a few victories and upon his return to Rome he ran for the consulship. As consul, Caesar’s

ambitions became apparent through his unconstitutional passage of laws. Finally, Caesar’s great political

success won him the office of dictator.

Caesar was well known for his passionate public speaking abilities. Caesar had been educated in

Rhodes under the tutelage of Apollonius, the teacher of Cicero. Caesar had given the eulogy at his aunt’s

funeral and was noted for his passion and emotion. In one episode, Cicero and the senators were opting

to put to death supporters of Cataline without a fair trial. Caesar spoke in opposition. His speech was

“made with such power, that not only those who rose to speak after Caesar sided with him, but many

also of those who had preceded him took back the opinions which they had expressed and went over to


Caesar’s qualities have led him to be remembered through history. But he was also remembered

for his ruthlessness, arrogance, and thirst for power and glory. Caesar’s ambitions went too far when he

was declared dictator for life and was subsequently stabbed to death on the Ides of March.