6 Intriguing Facts About Julius Caesar’s Life and Death You Should Know About
“Dictator Julius Caesar by Andrea di Pietro di Marco Ferrucci 1200X800” by Mary Harrsch, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Gaius Julius Caesar was a military general, statesman, the conqueror of Gaul, victor in the civil war, and dictator. He’s most known for launching a series of social and political reforms when he was murdered by a group of nobles in the Senate House on the Ides of March.
Julius Caesar was born in 100 BC in Rome, and he was assassinated in 44 BC in the same city. Caesar played a critical role in several events that led to the end of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire.
Caesar, Crassus, and Pompey formed the First Triumvirate in 60 BC. This was a political alliance that dominated Roman politics for several years. Through a couple of military victories in the Gallic Wars, that ended in 51 BC, Julius became one of the most powerful politicians in the Roman Republic.
After these wars, he invaded Britain and built a bridge across the Rhine river. His achievements and the support of the veteran army threatened to eclipse the standing of Pompey, who had realigned himself with the Senate after the death of Crassus in 53 BC.
Once the Gallic Wars ended, the Roman Senate ordered Julius to step down from his military duties and return home, to Rome. Senate’s goal was to bring Caesar to Rome and leave his command in Gaul which would cause him to lose his immunity to criminal prosecution by his enemies. Ceasar, who knew this, defied the Senate’s authority by crossing the Rubicon and marching towards Rome at the head of his army.
This act started Caesar’s civil war, which he won. That left him in a position of almost unchallenged power and influence. As soon as he assumed control of the government, he started several programs of governmental and social reforms, including creating the Julian calendar. Many residents of far regions of the Roman Republic received citizenship. Julius initiated support for war veterans and land reform.
Julius centralized the bureaucracy of the Republic and was proclaimed dictator perpetuo (dictator for life) because of that. Julius was the creator of many authoritarian and populist reforms, which caused anger among the elites, who eventually started conspiring against him. This led to Caesar’s assassination in 44 BC on the Ides of March.
A group of senators led by Cassius and Brutus stabbed Caesar to death, which caused a whole new series of civil wars. After that, the constitutional government of the Republic never fully restored.
Besides being a statesman and a military general, Caesar was also an author and historian. (1) (2) (3)
It’s been quite some time since you learned about Caesar in school, and it’s time to brush up on that knowledge. Because of that, we created a list of some of the most popular Julius Caesar facts, just for you.
Without any further ado, let’s find out more!
1. Julius Caesar wasn’t born by the Caesarian section
One of the most popular facts about Caesar is that he was born by the caesarian section. However, this one isn’t true at all. The medical procedure did exist at the time, but in most cases, it was fatal for the woman. Because of that, the procedure was performed only when the mother was dying or dead, in an effort to save her child. Aurelia Caesar lived for 46 more years and died in 54 BC.
It’s not clear where the name of the procedure originates from, but it’s likely that it can be attributed to one of Julius’ ancestors who was “caesus” from his mother’s womb (caesus means cut). (4) (5)
2. Caesar had an affair and a child with the queen of Egypt, Cleopatra VII Philopator
In 48 BC, Caesar went on a trip to Egypt. The intention of this visit was to track down one of his rivals, the Roman general Pompey. When he got there, he met Cleopatra, who was involved in a civil war against her younger brother and co-ruler Ptolemy XIII.
Caesar decided to put an end to their conflict and proclaimed himself as the executor of the will of the siblings’ deceased father. Cleopatra and Ptolemy were ordered to come and see Caesar and settle their conflicts.
Ptolemy’s army stopped Cleopatra from traveling to Caesar’s palace, she found another way to get there. She hid in a laundry bag and was smuggled into his palace. The two of them soon became a couple, and a year later, Cleopatra had a son, Ptolemy Caesar. Many Egyptians called the boy Caesarion, which means little Caesar. Besides Caesarion, Julius didn’t have any other children. (6)
3. Caesar was kidnapped by pirates in his mid-20s
In 75 BC, Julius set out from Rome to the Aegean Island, Rhodes. The goal of his trip was to study there with Apollonius, a Greek rhetorician whose students were some of the most notable people of the time, including Cicero.
Somewhere midway, his boat was attacked by pirates off the southwestern coast of Asia Minor. The captors gave a ransom price for his release, and according to some legends, Caesar was insulted with how little they asked for and gave them more than they asked for. Caesar was freed, and soon enough, he asked for revenge against the group. Several ships sailed out in search of the pirates, hunted them down, and executed. (7)
4. Julius Caesar is considered the creator of the leap year
Before Caesar’s time, the people of Rome used a calendar that was entirely based on the lunar cycle. This system predicted that there are 355 days in one year. That system was faulty, and 10 and one-quarter of days shorter than a solar year.
Roman officials were supposed to add extra days to the calendar every year to keep it aligned with the seasons. They didn’t always do that, and because of that, the calendar was often confusing, and out of the track with the seasons. It was often abused by politicians who wanted to extend their terms in office.
When Caesar rose to power, he consulted with the famous astronomer, Sosigenes, who created the new system, known as the Julian calendar. The calendar became the norm in 45 BC and consisted of 365 days in a year.
The goal of this new system was to be in complete sync with the solar cycle, but because of the additional quarter of the day per year, that wasn’t possible. Caesar came up with the solution that adds one day every four years to make up that difference.
Caesar’s calendar used to be the norm until the 16th century when a new, slightly modified version replaced it. Today, the Gregorian calendar is the world’s most used civil calendar. (8) (9)
5. His death marked the end of the Roman Republic
The intent behind Caesar’s murder was to prevent any man from taking the autocratic power and leadership that Caesar once had. But, after his death, that’s not what eventually went down.
At Caesar’s funeral, Mark Antony, who was his friend and a political ally, gave a speech that enraged the crowd and sparked a flame in their hearts. The speech was so powerful that it started riots in which houses of Caesar’s murderers were burnt down.
In the coming days, a series of events sparked the Liberators’ Civil War in which Octavian, Marc Antony, and the Roman people fought against the conspirators. The war eventually led to the rise of Octavian as emperor. This change marked the end of the Roman Republic and the beginning of the new Roman Empire. (10) (11)
6. Caesar’s coins are worth thousands of dollars today
Julius Caesar was the first politician ever to have his portrait printed on coins while he was still alive. The goal of the coin was to serve as propaganda for Caesar’s influence and power.
Many have adored Caesar and were entertained by these coins, not everyone was satisfied with that move. The Roman Senate regarded this act as an unacceptable display of Caesar’s arrogance.
Today, these coins are widely popular among collectors, and some are willing to pay thousands of dollars just to get their hands on one of these! (12)
Facts About Julius Caesar – there’s a lot more to the story!
Now, those were some of the most interesting facts about Gaius Julius Caesar. However, this list only scratches the surface of the exciting life of the former Roman leader. You can probably spend hours and days exploring his biography, and still continue to find out more and more things about him. Before you go, leave us a comment below. Which one of these facts did you like the most? Did we forget to mention your favorite fact about Caesar? Have you ever seen one of Caesar’s coins? 😉
While you’re still here, don’t miss out on some other content we have prepared for you. If you like the story about Julius Caesar, feel free to check out the ones about Cleopatra and Mark Antony, too!