Julius Caesar was undoubtedly a man who changed history. His life and its story have inspired generations of awe and scrupulous study. Many would argue he is the most influential man in recorded history. However, can the great Caesar truly be declared a event-making man', according to the criteria of the Great Man Theory? Did he truly influence the course of history through his own extraordinary acts of will and leadership? Or was he simply a fortunate man who appeared in the right place at the right time, being only the pawn of a greater scheme? By following and exploring the political ideals and abilities of Caesar, as well as his military ability and prowess, this essay hopes to clearly demonstrate that he was indeed a great event-making man', possessed of exceptional ambition, incredible intelligence, remarkable cunning, and inordinate bravery.
In order to properly evaluate Caesar as a Great Man', we must first establish the criteria by which he is to be judged, the criteria of the Great Man' Theory. According to Russell Hooks, author of an essay on the Great Man Theory, a Great Man' is an event-making man. A person who, through conscious will and extraordinary shows of leadership skills and intelligence, influences the flow of history. An event-making man does not cause events to happen by chance, such as through inheritance. He purposely alters the flow of history immensely from that which it would have been without his existence1. On the contrary, an eventful man is one who also alters the flow of history, yet did so through no incredible shows of his own talent. He is not unique in any way, and any other man would have done the same in his stead2. This is the difference between an event-making man, and a merely eventful man. So was Julius Caesar a truly great event-making man'? Did he possess intelligence, cunning, and ambition beyond that of normal men? Did he, throughout his life, make conscious decisions to further his own greatness and change history? Yes, Caesar was indeed a great man, and was unique in many aspects.
In the political world of Rome, Caesar was a veritable giant, yet not only did he have power, but an artful intelligence. No matter what his position, he exhibited signs of true leadership. He was patient, knowing that he would one day be the ruler of Rome. He was ruthless, doing whatever it would take to further his own success. He was corrupt when necessary, bribing and climbing rapidly in the political sphere of Rome. From his birth in 99 BCE, on the 11th day of the month Quinctilus, which would later be renamed after him to July, he was an ambitious and outgoing man. It should be noted also, that he was not born into a family of incredible prestige, nor was he heir to any particular position of great importance. He was a member of the nobility, yet no more. All that he gained, he did so through his own acts of will and ambition. At an early age, he attempted to gain political power by speaking in the public Forum. This action resulted in failure for the time being, yet this defeat inspired him to study under the great Apollonius, in order to increase his eloquence of speech. Caesar immediately recognized the importance of speech, and what role it would play in his destiny. In the future, Caesar would give many speeches to the people, and gain their affection by expending great amounts of wealth in large feasts and parties. As his popularity grew, he rose in rank and eminence as well. Through these conscious decisions, Caesar was slowly plotting the overthrow of the Republic, and saw these small victories as the foundation of his future greatness3. As his career advanced, Caesar passed through many increasingly important positions of power in the government, such as second orator, and Praetor of Rome (the chief civil magistrate). In Cadiz, a city in Spain, Caesar encountered a statue of Alexander at the Great in the temple of Hercules. He reportedly sighed heavily, disappointed in...
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