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10 Facts about Julius Caesar

facts about julius caesar

The people of Rome gave him titles, honors and more power than anyone else in their history but who was the man behind the brilliant speeches, the feared general and political genius, the man who inspired Shakespeare? His influence today might be more prevalent than you think. Even the King of Diamonds in the traditional pack of playing cards is meant to represent him.

Here are ten things that you should know about the famous (or infamous) Julius Caesar:

1 Happy Birthday Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar was born on July, 13th in 100 BC to an aristocratic family. Legend has it that his ancestry is traced back to the Goddess Venus, which explains why he had a temple built for her in the center of the city.

2 Don’t let kidnapping get you down After being kidnapped by Sicilian pirates at 25 years old, he didn’t behave like your average hostage. Instead he demanded his ransom be doubled and then preceded to amuse his kidnappers by giving speeches and joining in their sport and games aboard ship. But he always warned his new friends that once he got out of there, he’d hunt them down one by one. True to his word, once he was free, he captured them all, took back the ransom money and crucified each and every one of them. His one concession to his former “pals?” He killed them before crucifying them. Nice guy.

3 Caesar in Love Caesar was married 3 times but his most famous relationship was with the Egyptian queen Cleopatra. The two were lovers for 14 years and had a son together named Ptolemy Caesar with the nickname “Caesarion”- “The little Caesar”. (And no, no connection to the Caesarian section.) Caesar’s obsession with Cleopatra led him to include a statue of her in the Temple to the Goddess Venus, all but inviting the people of Rome to worship his own mistress…something they were less than thrilled to do.

4 Thanks Uncle After his only legal daughter Giulia died in childbirth, Caesar adopted his grandnephew Octavian and named him as heir in his will – something that wasn’t made public until after his death (coming up soon). Octavian would go on to become to first Emperor of Rome (Augustus Caesar) after Julius Caesar paved the way for him by dismantling the remains of the Old Republic and thus ushering in a reign of Emperors.

5 What’s the Date today? Caesar proposed the Julian Calendar in 45BC which most of the western world used until it was gradually replaced by the Gregorian Calendar proposed in 1582. Caesar is considered to be the father of the Leap year.




6 Pray to… Caesar? During his lifetime, his face started to appear on Roman coins but it wasn’t until after his death that he was officially deified by his heir, Octavian Augustus. He may have been the first Roman official to be deified but he wasn’t the last. Augustus had started a precedent and subsequent emperors (if popular) were also deified. In fact, it became the law to worship them… something that was to become a big problem for one religious group: the Christians.

7 Veni Vidi Vici! This famous phrase, meaning “I came, I saw, I conquered” was attributed to Caesar after his almost impossibly swift victory against Pharnaces II of the Kingdom of Pontus (modern day Turkey). It has since become synonymous with a swift, decisive victory.

8 Crossing the Rubicon: The die is cast Caesar’s more famous battles were against the Gauls upon whom he waged or more or less genocidal campaign in the efforts to boost his military career. In fear of his growing influence, the Senate decided to curtail his power but Caesar wouldn’t hear of it. In 49bc crossed the Rubicon River, the border of Roman territory and Cisalpine Gaul with his armies (a move that was tantamount to treason), uttering the phrase “alea iacta est” (the die is cast). The phrase “crossing the Rubicon” now signifies crossing a point of no return and indeed that was the result. Some mark the civil war that followed and the subsequent dictatorship that Caesar set up as the end of the Roman Republic.

9 Beware the Ides of March! Beware the Ides of March… said a soothsayer to Julius Caesar, thus uttering the prophecy of his doom. On March 15th, 44bc (what the Ancient Romans called the Ides) Julius Caesar was assassinated and the history of Rome changed forever. After threatening the power of the senate, they hatched a conspiracy – no less than 60 senators were involved in the plot. They stabbed him to death on the floor of the senate, at that time held in the no longer standing Theater of Pompey (close to today’s Largo Argentina). Despite stabbing him 23 times, only one blow was fatal.

10 E tu, Brute? Were these really Caesar’s last words? Fiercely fighting his attackers with just the pen in his hand, legend would have it that when Caesar saw Brutus, one of his closest friends, amongst the mob around him the fight went out of him. With a last “You too, Brutus?” he succumbed to his fate. At least, this is how Shakespeare would have had it in his play: “The assassination of Julius Caesar”. Whatever his final words, his life story, wreathed in myth and legend was certainly enough to inspire the great poet.

Bonus Buon Appetito? And the famous Caesar Salad? Named after it’s inventor Caesar Cardini in who invented it in the 1920’s.



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