Julius Caesar

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Julius Caesar (100-44) was one of the most influential men in all of Western Civilization. He was part of the great generation born around 100 B.C. (Caesar, Pompey, Cicero) that changed Rome and changed all of Europe. Caesar’s role in the history of Roman government is central but even more important was his leadership in the conquest of Gaul and the extension of Roman culture into France, Belgium, and England. This conquest created “Europe.” What had been a sprawling land of various Celtic tribes became a unified entity called Europe. The German historian Theodore Mommsen says: “That there is a bridge connecting the past glory of Hellas and Rome with the prouder fabric of modern history, that western Europe is Romanic, and Germanic Europe Classic . . .all this is the work of Caesar; and while the creation of his great predecessor in the East has been almost wholly reduced to ruin by the tempests of the Middle ages, the structure of Caesar has outlasted those thousands of years which have changed religions and states.”

Caesar Chronology

Rome Chronology

753 BC Traditional, mythological date: foundation of Rome.
509 BC Overthrow of tyrant Tarquin
450 BC Constitution, The Twelve Tables, First written constitution in Western civilization.(Greek city-states did not have written constitutions)
264 BC Rome fights first Punic War (Punic= Phoenicia) with Carthage. Carthage controls coast of North Africa. Rome wins Sicily.
234 BC Birth of Cato. Symbol of early Roman Republic. (virtue, simplicity, selflessness).
218 BC Scipio Africanis vs. Hannibal. (Second Punic War).
216 BC Battle of Cannae: Hannibal vs. Rome (Hannibal wins) Military strategists say most brilliant battle plan ever in ancient world
214 BC Success of plays of Plautus. Old Republican virtues.
205 BC First Macedonian War. Rome vs. Greece.
202 BC Scipio defeats Hannibal. Battle outside Carthage. Rome wins
186 BC Old Republican Rome of Cato. (Cicero memorializes as great time).
167 BC Polybius (Greek) to Rome,Sign that Rome now new cultural centerPraise Rome in history.
160 BC Scipio Africanis. Old Republican virtues.
155 BC Greek philosophy comes to Rome.Polybius part of this "Greek" school.
149 BC Death of Cato. (death of "old" Republic).
146-149 BC Third Punic War: Rome vs. Carthage (200,000 soldiers) Scipio Africanis (185-129) vs. Hasdrubal Rome wins Rome sacks Corinth and Carthage (decline of morality?) Many Carthaginians died from starvation during the later part of the siege, while many others died in the final six days of fighting. When the war ended, the remaining 50,000 Carthaginians, a small part of the original pre-war population, were, as was the normal fate in antiquity of inhabitants of sacked cities, sold into slavery by the victors. Carthage was systematically burned for 17 days; the city's walls and buildings were utterly destroyed. The remaining Carthaginian territories were annexed by Rome and reconstituted to become the Roman province of Africa
133 BC Revolt of Gracchi (Populist revolt). Rome politics in trouble.
106 BC Birth of Cicero. Birth of Pompey.
100 BC Birth of Julius Caesar. (d. 44 BC)
94 BC Birth of Lucretius. (d. 55 BC)
82 BC Dictatorship of Sulla, Republic in crisis. Cicero and Caesar born into crisis.
77 BC Success of young general Pompey. Rival to Julius Caesar.
70 BC Birth of Virgil. Born near Mantua.
73 BC Revolt of slaves under Spartacus. Pompey puts them down. 6000 crucified along Via Appia.
66 BC Cicero prominent. Supports Pompey.
63 BC Cicero elected Consul (key executive position of Roman constitution). Catiline Conspiracy (Dec).Cicero speaks for death penalty.Makes lifelong enemies in this attempted coup against the republic.
62 BC Scandal of Clodius & Caesar's wife (Caesar divorces). Cicero makes more enemies with his wit (Clodius).
60 BC First Triumvirate: Pompey, Caesar, Crassus.
59 BC Julius Caesar elected Consul.
58 BC Caesar: Conquest of Gaul. Clodius effects exile of Cicero from Rome(to Greece).
54 BC Invasion of Britain. Cicero: De Republica.
51 BC Cicero pushed out of Rome. Goes to Cilicia as governor.
49 BC (Jan 7) Senate passes ultimatum to Caesar: "Disband army." (Jan 10) Caesar crosses the Rubicon. (Mar) Caesar meets with Cicero, asks Cicero to join him. (Jun) Cicero turns against Caesar, joins Pompey .
48 BC (Aug 9) Caesar defeats Pompey (Pharsalus, Greece). Pompey: 48,000 infantry, 7000 cavalry. Caesar: 22,000 infantry, 1000 cavalry. Plutarch: "Some few of the noblest Romans, standing as spectators outside the battle . . .could not but reflect to what a pass private ambition had brought the Empire . . .The whole flower and strength of the same city, meeting here in collision with itself, offered plain proof how blind and mad a thing human nature is when passion is aroused." Pompey flees to Egypt, murdered by Egyptians thinking this will gain them advantage with Caesar. Head presented to Caesar upon his arrival in Egypt.Caesar cries as contemplates sad end of his friend & competitor . Caesar with Cleopatra in Alexandria (makes her Queen of Egypt) .Cleopatra gives birth to Caesar's child. Later comes to Rome.
47 BC (Sep) Caesar returns to Italy. Met at Taranto by Cicero, they make peace. (Oct) Caesar in Rome.
45 BC Cicero "retires from politics." (Dec) beloved daughter Tullia dies. Caesar dines at Cicero's country home on Italian coast (see Letters).
44 BC Ides of March. assass of Julius Caesar (Cicero present at theater). Brutus confers with Cicero, now grand old man of Roman politics.Cicero opposes idea of assass but approves after the fact, then laments nothing achieved by it. Cicero: De Senectute. Cicero: De Amicitia.Cicero: De Officiis (On Duties). Mark Antony seizes gov.(Aug)Cicero returns Rome, huge ovation, greeted by thousands as the only remaining Republican hero left in Rome, his moment of glory, greater fame and power than at any other time in his life . (Sep) Cicero launches First Philippic oration against Mark Antony.Cicero overnight becomes rallying point of old republican Rome.His enemy: Mark Antony.
43 BC (Aug) Second Triumvirate: Mark Antony, Lepidus, Octavian. (Dec 7) Antony's men find Cicero, Cut off his head and hands and bring them to Forum in Rome. Mark Antony orders that they be nailed up in Forum Wants all to see within sight of Senate. And so ends the Republic of Rome.
31 Battle of Actium. Octavian(Augustus) defeats Antony.
30 BC Antony commits suicide thinking Cleopatra dead. Octavian in Alexandria, Cleopatra tries to seduce, then suicide. Octavian (Augustus) supreme, begin of "Roman Empire."
27 BC Octavian becomes Caesar Augustus. Principate 27 BC to 14 AD .
14 AD Death of Augustus. stepson Tiberius succeeds.
14 AD Emperor Tiberias, stepson of Aug (wife Livia's son) succeeds Augustus.
29 John the Baptist preaching, foreshadowing of message of Jesus of Nazareth.
33 (April 3) Crucifixion. (see article, Humphreys, Nature: Dec 22 1983).
37 Caligula becomes Emperor.
41 Claudius succeeds as Emperor.
43 Romans invade Britain and found Londinium (London)
51 Paul in Athens. Speading Christianity among the Gentiles.
53 (Marcus Ulpius Traianus (Trajan) born into non-patrician family in Italica, in province of Hispania, Spain
54 Nero succeeds Claudius. Becomes Emperor.
64 Burning of Rome while Nero fiddles. Blame Christians, massive persecutions, executions. Death of Peter and Paul in Rome.
66 Revolt in Judea. Vespasian goes to quell rebels, destroy Temple(70 A.D.)
67 Nero makes "artistic" tour of Greece. Rome still fascinated with Greece.
68 Army and Senate turns on Nero. Nero commits suicide at villa. Year of the Four Emperors (Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian
69 Vespasian wins out as Emperor. Son of humble tax collector.
70 Build Colosseum.Titus captures Jerusalem, and destroys the Jewish temple (Diaspora)
76 Publicus Aelius Hadrianus (Hadrian) born into well-established family that originated in Picenum in Italy and settled in Italica, Hispania Baetica (the republican Hispania Ulterior), near present-day Seville.
79 Titus, son of Vespasian, succeeds as Emperor (Arch of Titus). Vesuvius buries Pompeii, Herculaneum, Stabiae
80 Baths of Titus and the Coliseum are completed.
81 Domitian becomes Emperor, succeeding Titus. Made Senate power obsolete.
96 Domitian murdered in palace conspiracy. Old Nerva becomes Emperor. Rules two years.
98 Trajan becomes Emperor, succeeding adoptive father Nerva. Rules 19 years. Greeted with enthusiasm, governed well, freed many who were unjustly imprisoned by Domitian, returned confiscated private property (process begun by Nerva). Best known for extensive public building program (Trajan's Forum, Trajan's Market, Trajan's Column), constructed with the spoils of conquest of Dacia, which ended in 106. His campaigns expanded the Roman Empire to its greatest territorial extent. Senate gave him the honorific of Optimus ("Best").
117 While sailing back to Rome, Trajan dies of a stroke in the city of Selinus. Deified by Senate, ashes laid to rest under Trajan's Column. Hadrian, adopted son of Trajan, becomes Emperor. Rules 21 years. Humanist and philhellene, sought to make Athens the cultural capital of the Empire and ordered the construction of many opulent temples in the city.
122 Hadrian commissions building of a wall in Britain to keep out the Scots and the Picts.
124 Rebuilding of Roman Pantheon completed.
138 Hadrian dies after adopting Antoninus Pius with proviso that Antonius adopt Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus in turn as his own successors.
161 Antoninus Pius dies.
161-180 Rule of Marcus Aurelius (rules with Lucius Verus until Lucius’s death in 169)
476 Last Emperor in the West to rule in Rome. (later Emperors rule in Ravenna as part of eastern Empire)


Roman Forum