The Rise of Julius Casear


  1. The Geography of Italy
  2. The Etruscans
  3. The Roman Republic
  4. Roman Expansion and the Punic Wars
  5. The Civil War
  6. The Rise of Julius Casear

Instructional Goal: Students will know the facts surrounding the rise of Julius Caesar to power and understand how he transformed Rome into an empire.

I. With Marius and Sulla removed from Rome, a power vacum develops.

  1. Three influential Romans rise to challenge for the leadership of the Roman government.
  2. Pompey (106-48 BC); A patrician optimate, he was one of the most influential men in Rome. He had very deep support from the Roman senate.
  3. Crassus (112-53 BC); Also a patrician optimate, but with less support among the senate. He was Sulla's protege and a military hero as a result of the suppression of the Slave revolt led by Spartacus in 73 BC. He was considered the wealthiest man in Rome.
  4. A populare and nephew of Marius, he was also a member of the one of the oldest families in Rome. He was opposed by the Senate and was a close friend of Crassus.

II. The three Romans reach a compromise and rule Rome as the "First Triumvirate."

  1. Pompey and Crassus were the consuls of Rome.
  2. In a surprise move, they repealled many of Sulla's reforms and stripped much of the power from the senate.
  3. In an attempt to placate the populares, Pompey and Crassus decide to make Julius Caesar a Consul without power.
  4. Although officially part of the government, Caesar did not trust Pompey or Crassus.

III. Julius Caesar decides to leave Rome for a foreign outpost.

  1. Caesar appoints himself Proconsul of Gaul.
  2. Action was designed to remove himself from Roman politics and also recruit a loyal army much as Marius had done.
  3. Caesar meets limited success in Gaul but eventually brings it under Roman control by 55 BC.
  4. He sends continuous dispatches back to Rome. These become known as the "Commentaries on the Gallic War".
  5. Caesar attempts to invade and conquer Britain but he is driven out by the Celts.

IV. Julius Caesar returns to Rome and achieves total control of the govenment.

  1. Crassus meets an unexpected death during a military campaign in Syria in 53 BC.
  2. Pompey declares himself sole Consul and orders Caesar to disband his army and return to Rome.
  3. Caesar begins a march on Rome with his army intact.
  4. He is warned not to "Cross the Rubicon" but he disobeys, stating "The die is cast."
  5. The common people of Rome are obvious in their support of Julius Caesar and even many optimates desert Pompey when it becomes obvious he cannot defeat Caesar.
  6. Pompey flees Rome and is followed by Caesar.
  7. He is eventually chased to Egypt, where Caesar follows him, has him executed, and assists Cleopatra in her effort to gain the throne of Egypt.

V. Julius Caesar establishes a dictatorship (49-44 BC).

  1. Julius Caesar becomes a "Demogogue", or one who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power.
  2. In a series of political moves, Caesar gains total control of the Roman government; (A) Appointed dictator for 10 years; (B) Appointed dictator for life; (C) Assumed title of "Imperator" or a general in a perpetual state of triumph; (D) Assumed the title of "Pater Patriae" or "Father of his Country".
  3. Caesar wisely turned down the title of King, a hated title since the days of the Tarquins.

VI. Julius Caesar implements a series of reforms designed to further consolidate his power.

  1. He granted citizenship to many colonials, thus widening his base of support.
  2. Granted pay to Proconsuls to remove corruption and gain allegiance from them.
  3. Established a network of spies.
  4. Instituted a policy of land reform designed to take power away from the wealthy.
  5. Reduced the powers of the Senate so as to make it an advisory council only.

VII. Caesar's reforms create a deep hatred from the wealthy and powerful senate.

  1. The large masses grow in their support of Caesar.
  2. At the same time the senate fear his reforms and attempt to convince the people he was on the verge of restoring the kingship.
  3. The senate despised him because of his personal actions including (A) Having his head placed on the coin of the realm; (B) having himself proclaimed a descended of Romulus and Remus; (C) Assuming the oriental dress of the Egyptians; (D) Establishment of a religious cult which many thought would lead to his self-proclaimed divinity.
  4. A group of senators, led by Cassius and Brutus, who some suspect was Caesar's illegitmate son, plot to assassinate Caesar.
  5. Despite many warnings, Caesar enters the Senate chamber on March 15 (The Ides of March), 44 BC and is stabbed over 60 times.

Assignment: Students will read "The Assassination of Julius Caesar."

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