Julius Caesar an Influential Political Leader
Julius Caesar was born in 100 BC and was assassinated on March 15, 44 BC. Caesar was born into a family that wasn’t dominant in politics. However, due to his military and oratory skills, Caesar rose through the Roman political system. Pompey was an influential political leader in Rome who led vast military expeditions as well as being a key ally to Caesar. Their close relationship allowed Ceasar to get voted in as consul in 59 BC. This was only the beginning of Caesar’s powerful impact on the Roman government. His expanding popularity in Rome led to him claiming the title of dictator for life.
After ruling for a year as dictator the Roman Senate became envious of his increasing political power and assumed that assassinating him would restore Rome’s former glory, where not one person had more power over the other. The First Triumvirate was a political affiliation between the three most powerful people in Rome at the time: Julius Caesar, Marcus Licinius Crassus, and Pompey. Caesar’s involvement in the First Triumvirate allowed him to have greater control over the Senate. This alliance ended when Crassus died in 53 BC. After defeating Pompey in the Great Roman Civil War, Caesar earns the unique title of dictator for life. As a dictator, he was given an extensive amount of power in government.
The financial crisis in Rome was at its peak due to the recent war expenses. Caesar took his newfound power to reinforce a law that prohibited a single person from owning more than 60,000 Roman coins. Caesar gained most of his popularity from lower to middle class citizens by distributing land to poor families and giving jobs to the unemployed. He also increased taxes on certain imports to make the upper class pay for their luxurious lifestyles.As he conquered new territories he offered citizenship to an abundance of foreigners and even gave the opportunity to his former Roman rivals to participate in the government. This favoritism within the lower classes left the upper class Roman citizens jealous and resentful towards Caesar, eventually leading to his downfall. The Senate especially was suspicious of his rule. Despite Caesar’s plan of filling the senate with people that better represented all Romans, the Senate was secretly planning an act of revenge on Caesar due to his rapidly growing influence.
They disliked the new foundation of government he was forming and wanted it to be restored back to originality. The Senate disapproved that the lower and middle classes were thriving rather than the upper class. As a result of all of this, they came to the conclusion that the only way to fix these issues was to assassinate him. Thus, on March 15th 44 BC, a group of senators stabbed Caesar to death as he entered a Senate meeting. Brutus, who was Caesar’s lover’s son, had practically been raised by Caesar. When he became dictator, Brutus became a part in Roman Senate. Even after everything Caesar had done for him, Brutus was a major component in plotting his death. The main reason for this is that Brutus, along with the other Senators, despised the idea of Caesar becoming dictator and being worshipped by the Roman citizens. Despite his assassination, Caesar had a long-lasting effect on Roman history.
The changes he made impacted Rome and his successors even after his death. Contrary to what the senators thought would happen, the death of Caesar brought mass chaos in Rome. The lower ranking citizens mourned at his funeral but rallied and rebelled at the feet of the Senate. The Senate responded to these outbreaks of madness by giving him the title The Divine Julius. Now came the new struggle for power in Rome, leading to the end of the Roman Republic and the start of the Roman Empire. Eventually, authority was granted to Octavian, Caesar’s adopted son, due to the writing in Caesar’s will. Octavian used Caesar’s popularity and former strategies as a ruler to become successful. Octavian, Mark Antony, and Marcus Lepidus formed a triumvirate and seized control of Rome and the empire’s western territories. All three men wanted to get revenge on Caesar’s assassins, Marcus Brutus and Gaius Cassius. Their revenge resulted in two brutal battles. During one, Cassius committed suicide because he thought his army had lost the battle. During the other, Brutus committed suicide and his men surrendered.
Moreover, the assassination became a turning point in history, as it prompted these vengeful wars. It additionally ended democracy in Rome and began its legendary empire that would continue on for centuries to come. Octavian’s political skills allowed him to become the first true emperor of the Roman Empire. He receives this position not only because of his political skills but for his defeat of Antony. Octavian changes his name to Augustus and consolidates the power in Rome after Caesar’s assassination. As stated above, the assassination of Julius Caesar was caused by his excess power which left Rome in chaos and in desperate need of a leader to take over Rome. This became the reason for the rise of the Roman Empire, where Octavian left the legacy of being one of the most powerful leaders in history.