Gaius Julius Caesar: The Populares and the Optimates

Topics: Julius Caesar, Roman Republic, Roman Empire Pages: 2 (647 words) Published: April 15, 2007
Gaius Julius Caesar

Gaius Julius Caesar was born on July 12, 100 B.C, to a patrician family. Julius was raised in Subura, which was a section in Rome for the lower-class citizens. When Julius was fifteen years of age, he inherited his father's fortune, who worked as a praetor. However, his family was not considered rich by the noble standards of Rome. Caesar grew up in a time of turmoil, and Rome was domestically split between two warring parties, the Populares, and the Optimates. Caesar was torn, but bent towards the Populares because of family ties. His uncle Marius led the Populares, and Caesar's uncle's nemesis was Sulla, who led the Optimates. Sulla was granted power and later won the civil war, which would lead him to become the emperor.

Eventually Caesar was forced out of Rome by Sulla, however was given a pardon to return. Caesar declined, and chose military service under Marcus Thermus in Asia. This decision turned out for the best for Julius. In 80 B.C., Caesar showed himself as a leader, by showing bravery in the siege of Miletus. In honor of his bravery, Caesar was awarded the corona civica (Civic Crown), which was a prominent award given to soldiers who saved other soldiers in battle.

After learning of Sulla's death, Caesar returned to Rome, and began to climb its hierarchy quickly. Rising in the political world was rather easy for Julius, since his uncle Marius had been the leader of the Populares movement. He was also popular because he held many positions and gained large amounts of experience. For example, he was a prosecutor, pontifex maximus, praetor, and a consul. His experience allowed him to become the Governor of Transalpine Gaul.

It was in Gaul that Caesar gained his military prominence. The Gallic Wars were initiated in 58 B.C., and would bring Caesar extreme amounts of fame. Caesar felt that many tribes in Gaul posed a threat, and he felt necessary to take measures and push them back. Caesar explains...
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