Caesar's Ambition Lead to His Downfall

Topics: Roman Empire, Julius Caesar, Augustus Pages: 9 (3026 words) Published: October 12, 2008
“I came, I saw, I conquered.” These were the famous words spoken by the Roman emperor, Julius Caesar. Caesar’s coming to power signalled the Roman Empire escalation in terms of economy, citizen rights, military strength, etc. Caesar’s leadership brought Rome many fortunes; some historians credit his success to the fact that he was ambitious. However, becoming overly ambitious has often been the cause of downfall for the leaders of the past, and Ceasar’s case was no different. While ambition gives an individual a goal and proper motivation towards it, sometimes the culprit can become obsessed with his own legacy, and forego rationality to in an attempt to carve his name in stone. For a ruler, this is a particularly undesirable attribute; ambitious power can lead to corruption and inevitably, the deterioration of a nation. Indeed, this was the case for the venerable yet foolish Roman ruler. Julius Caesar, the feared general of the Roman army, and the leader of the Roman state, suffered a tragic downfall due to his ambitious desires. William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and E.B Shaw’s Caesar and Cleopatra portray Caesar’s ambitious persona. Caesar’s ambition interfered in three main areas in which inevitably lead him to his demise. The first was Caesar’s defiance of religious morality and his insolence towards the gods. The second was his ignorance and disrespect towards society, and third was Caesar’s general ambitious desire towards complete supremacy and rule. To achieve a level of greatness unattained in history is arguable, but to extend that level of ambition to the spiritual realm, in other words, the angels and the gods, shows utmost arrogance and disrespect. Caesar’s egotistic idea of becoming greater than the all-mighty gods was one factor that led to his tragic demise: …he was also totally ruthless in the pursuit of his personal goals and ambitions, which included not only absolute power over the Roman Empire, but also divine honours and recognition as a human god.

Caesar’s high level of personal goals made him determined in attaining them. Caesar’s ambition rose to such a margin that he wanted to be recognized as a “human god.” This desire is as impossible as the sun rising from the west yet his determination to attain godly status shows his over excessive ambition that disregards any religious morality. Caesar’s defiance was primarily due to his views on religion. Historians suggest that even though Caesar was taught about religion during his childhood most of it would be left for him to judge on practical basis, as it was said that he “would come to view most aspects of religion as an empty superstition.” In E.B Shaw’s drama Caesar and Cleopatra, Caesar rudely questions Cleopatra’s religious practice with “What table rapping! Are such superstitions / still believed in this year 707 of the republic?” He refers to Cleopatra’s religious practices as mere beliefs that have been adopted by a society based on the teaching of their ancestors and having no practical use at all. This proves his inability to understand and respect religious rituals proves his ignorance towards religious morals. In addition, we see Caesar’s disrespect for religious practices in William Shakespeare’s, Julius Caesar when Caesar says, “If I could pray to move, prayers would move me; / But I am constant as the Northern Star,” This quotation portrays Caesar’s defiance and arrogance in the system that has been a part of Rome for centuries as he states that he’s the only Roman who remains “constant as the Northern star” (ie. his beliefs). He is trying to portray himself as a model of perfection, a man who doesn’t need any divine help nor is he afraid of the all mighty power. Like a rebel who goes against preset rules, Caesar has his own ideas about deciding his own fate through his rules rebelling in the belief of predetermined fate that the gods have set for mankind, thus showing how indifferent he was when it came...
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