Top 10 interesting facts about Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar was a famous Roman statesman who was at the forefront of the events that led to the demise of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire. In 60 BC Julius Caesar along with his colleagues formed the First Triumvirate, a political alliance that dominated Roman politics for several years. Caesar rose to power by virtue of his many accomplishments particularly his victories in the Gallic Wars that ended in 51 BC. Caesar went on to become the first Roman general to cross both the English Channel and the Rhine River as he crossed the Channel to invade Britain.
Much of Caesar’s life is known from his military campaigns as he is considered by many historians to be one of the greatest military commanders in history. However, here are the top 10 interesting facts about Julius Caesar that might interest you.
1. Julius Caesar had a child with Cleopatra
In 48 B.C Julius Caesar travelled to Egypt on a mission to track down one of his rivals. There he met Cleopatra who was entangled in a civil war with her co-ruler and younger brother Ptolemy XIII. Julius considered himself the executor of the will of the sibling’s late father and so he stepped in to help resolve the feud. This is where the romanticism began. In 47 B.C., she gave birth to a boy named Ptolemy XV Philopator Philometor Caesar. The child was believed to be Caesar’s and the Egyptians would refer to him as Caesarion, meaning little Caesar.
2. The leap year
The Romans had a calendar system based on the lunar cycle, with 355 days in a year. This was long before Julius Caesar came into power. The system was 10 ¼ days shorter than a solar year, the amount of time required for the Earth to make one complete revolution around the sun.
Caesar implemented the Julian calendar after consultations with an astronomer. The calendar was in effect in 45 B. C and had 365 days a year. It was intended to be in sync with the solar cycle; however, because the actual solar year is 365 ¼ days long, Caesar also added an extra day, called a leap day, every four years to make up the difference.
The Julian calendar was the norm until the late 16th century. The Gregorian calendar, a more modified version, was introduced and is now the most widely used civic calendar.
3. Caesar was loved by his people
Like any leader who works for his people, Julius Caesar was loved. He advocated for his people; he made many strides to reduce debt, unemployment and improved the Roman people’s living standards. Caesar proposed new laws that redistributed lands to the poor and limited the amount of money that one single person could have on them at one time. He offered jobs to the poor to work in Rome’s overseas colonies and even granted citizenship to foreigners living in the Republic. Caesar constructed a new harbour, canal, Senate house, and the Forum Julium, which you can still walk through today!
Even after his death, Caesar kept on giving! In his will, he left his villa, gardens, and an art gallery open to the general public. Not only that, but he also left his riches to be shared between the people of Rome, giving a portion of his own money to each citizen.
4. Caesar sparked a Civil War
Caesar ignited a civil war when he resists the Senate’s orders and crossed the Rubicon River in 49 BC. This was a decision Caesar made after his term as the governor of Gaul had expired. The Roman Senate commanded that Caesar disband his army and return to Rome. So in fear of prosecution for treason, Caesar decided to rebel against Pompey and keep his pride. After the Civil War ended, Caesar basked in his victories and became more powerful than ever. When he finally returned to Rome, he appointed himself dictator for life in 44 BC, but we all know how that ended.
5. Caesar’s death marked the end of the republic
The whole point of Caesar’s assassination was to prevent anyone man taking sole leadership and power as Caesar had. However, upon Caesar’s death, this did not happen. Caesar was loved and activities hereafter show. Marc Antony, Caesar’s friend, gave a speech that enraged a fire in the hearts of the Roman people. This series of events sparked the Liberators’ Civil War in which Marc Antony, Octavian, and the angry Roman people fought versus the conspirators of Caesar’s murder. This war ultimately ended with the rise of Octavian as emperor which signified the end of the Roman Republic and the beginning of the new Roman Empire.
6. Caesar was the first Roman to become sanctified
Upon Caesar’s death, a comet flashed in the sky, this made many Romans believe it was a symbol of Caesar’s divine ascension to heaven. Caesar was the first Roman to become deified in history.
Becoming deified meant that the Senate voted to decide that he should be considered divine and ascend to a god-like level.
After Caesar, there have been other emperors along with some of their family members who have earned this prestigious and noble title upon death too.
7. Caesar was later used as a title and not just a name
Caesar’s adopted heir to the throne, Augustus became the first emperor of Rome, he went by the name Caesar Augustus, and all subsequent Roman emperors also carried the title Caesar, a sign of how venerated Caesar was as a military and political leader.
8. Julius Caesar the Writer
Julius Caesar was not only a political genius and military leader; he was also a creative and talented writer. He would write about his military conquests, speeches and even dabbled in poetry.
Caesar even published a joke book. They weren’t his jokes, but he was a fan of humour. So, Caesar had a scribe follow Cicero around writing down his best zingers, which he assembled into a book.
9. Caesar was assassinated by a large number of conspirators
Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC in the curia of the Theatre of Pompey. Here, more than sixty conspirators who had feared that Caesar would overthrow the Senate and become king participated in the assassination. Caesar was stabbed 23 times but only one wound, to his aorta, was ultimately fatal.
The Senators were quite sly to have so many people involved in the killing; this prevented any individual person from taking the blame.
10. Caesar’s coins
Julius Caesar was the first Roman politician to have his portrait minted on coins while he was still alive. This widely exchanged image served as propaganda for Caesar’s power and influence.
While the adoring public may not have minded, this act was most likely regarded as an unacceptable act of arrogance by the Senate.
Collectors today are willing to pay thousands of dollars for one of these relics!
Now you know the top 10 interesting facts about Julius Caesar. I hope you enjoyed this article.