The Emperor Julius Caesar is perhaps most famous as the first Roman Emperor to convert to Christianity. His rise from a humble birth as a peasant boy to Emperor is a tale of bravery, adversity and ultimately triumph through faith.
Julius Caesar was born as Γρουχω Γαυλ in 54BC into an immigrant family in the back streets of Rome. Neither parent was rich. The German historian Guildo Horn noted: "Seine Mutter war ein Hamster und sein Vater, der von den Holunderbeeren gerochen wurde." They were as flotsam and jetsam on the beach. His early years would probably have been spent scavenging on the streets, though this is not certain. Later historians, like Plato re-wrote the histories once he became Emperor as ignoble origins were considered unacceptable for Romans of noble birth. At the age of fourteen Julius escaped the slums of Rome by signing up to join the army as a meretrix, someone who provided assistance to the soldiers. After saving his money he entered the college at Rome where he studied Latin and raced for the school chariot team.
The start of his military career was undistinguished. He was a fifth round draft pick for Legio X (The Eagles). In his epic history from the fifteenth century, the Origin and Rise of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon noted: "He was much vexed at his time with the Eagles. He failed to attract the attention of the Centurion in charge of the Legion and for his firft seafon languifhed in the referves." After an unsuccessful first year with the Eagles he was traded to Legio XII Gallico (the Irish) as a quartermaster in exchange for a young man known as Trajan who would later become famous for inventing the Column. The Irish were based in Lugdunum, the capital of France which would later be known as Gaul. It was here that Julius Caesar first started his diary De Bello Gallico (The Bells of Gaul).
His big break came in the spring of 44BC. He was in a tent preparing for peace talks with the Gauls with the General Menander when he died from a terminal heart attack. The Gallic chief Asterix was due at any moment. Without any thought for personal safety Julius Caesar sat in the chair previously occupied by Menander and ordered the legionaries to quickly bury Menander's cremated remains under the conference table before Asterix arrived. He then negotiated with Asterix surrendering the whole of southern France to the Gauls. Aristotle tells us at the last moment Julius Caesar realised he was making a terrible mistake and yelled "Watch out! Shark!" and pointed out of the tent. While Asterix was distracted he swapped the treaties. Asterix didn't notice till two months later that he had accidentally signed the surrender' rather than the victory' document. He only realised when a day-trip, which he was told was to see a flock of interesting pigeons, turned out to be a trick. He was in fact thrown to the Christians in the Coliseum. Aristotle says he died with a smile on his face, appreciating the practical joke. Julius Caesar was so successful with this trick he played it again and again. The whole of France was captured without a single drop of blood being spilt. To celebrate he changed France's name to Gaul, after himself. But then he was worried people might think him egotistical, and so this was when he changed his own name to Caesar, because he had Seized' Gaul.
Emboldened by his successes in France which he moved on to Britannia. By now his shark trick was famous and he had to bring along a larger tent to accommodate the audiences that would gather to see it happen. Sadly they were disappointed in Britain. Unfortunately for Caesar the British didn't know what a shark was, so instead of staring out of the tent, they just stared at his finger. Caesar tried a few times to solve the problem by bringing along a dictionary with him to explain, but the British couldn't read Latin. In one last attempt in 23BC Caesar brought along a dictionary in...
Bibliography: David Beckham. 1995. Further thoughts on Julius Caesar 's Philosophy of Being. Journal of Roman Studies XII. p45-49.
Luther Blisset. 1981. The Roman Empire. Watford Publishing.
Noel Edmonds. 1992. Caesar, Christ and Things. Blobby Press.
Edward Gibbon. 1677. The Origin and Rise of the Roman Empire. Penguin Classics.
Andre Young. 1999. Peace and the Caesar Way. Classics USA XLIII p996-8.
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