Julius Caesar

.. ragement. Cowards die many times before their deaths,” are among the words that Shakespeares puts into his mouth,”the valiant taste of death but once.” If we would read the histlry of those years of almost constant campaigning, from 58 to 49 B.C., where better than in those memories of Caesars own writting, that are among the materpieces of latin lierature. Of course interest to us in 55 B.C. when the Roman expeditionary forces sailed from Boulogne and the men got ashore on the coast at Deal.

This first invasion was nothing more than a reconnaissance, and after three weeks Casear went back across the Channel. But in the summer of the next year he returned, and this time he penetrated as far as the valley of the Thames in Middlesex. After considerable figting, the Britons under Cassivellaunus sued for terms, gave hostages and agreed to pay tribute. Whereupon Caesar sailed back to Gual, where there was always a risk that the recently subdued natives might make a fresh bid for their independence. In fact, they did rebel, and for several years Caesar found a worthy match in the young Vercingetorix. Once he was defeated, and the Roman position in Gual was threatened as it had never been before. But Caesar managed to unite his forces, and at Alesia in 52 B.C.

crushed the Gaulish armies and obtained Vercingetorixs surrender. This was the end to resistance to Roman rule henceforth Gual was a great and increasingly prosperous province of the Roman realm. Casears victory was opportune, for affairs at Rome demanded his attention. The Triumvirate was on the verge of dissolution. Pompey was estranged, and Crassus had gone off to the east, where he met disaster and death in battle with the Parthians. Caesars terms of office in Gaul was nearing its end, and already his enemies in Rome were talking of what they would do to him when he had returned to civil life.

They complained of his having overstepped his authority, of having embarked on grandiose schemes of comquest, of cruelties inflicted on poor inoffensive barbarians. All there things were reported to Caesar in his camp, and, being the man he was, it is not surprising that he resolved to get in the firt blow. Although he had only one legion under his immediate command, and Pompey had been boasting that he had only to stamp on the ground and legions would rise up to do his bidding he resolved to march on Rome. Early in January, 49 B.C. he took the decisive step of crossing the Rubicon, the little river that ws the boundry of his command. As he watched his men plunging into streams he talked up and down the banks, and some who were near said that he muttered the wrods “Jacta alea est”, “the die is cast” .

Whether he spoke the words or not, the die was cast, and in open defiance of Pompeys government, Caesar marched with all speed on the capital. Pompeys support disintegrated, and he was foced to flee overseas. Caesar entered Rome triumph. Almost without a blow Caesar had become master of Rome, and he ws forthwith granted dictatorial powers. But Pomey and his friends rallied, and for the next five years Caesar was chiefly engaged in defeating, first, Pompey at Pharsalia in Greece, soon after which Pompey was murdered in Egypt, next Pompeys sons in spain, and hten the army of those Roman leaders who constituted what was known as the senatorial party those who clung to the onle time-honoured system of republican rule through the Senate.

A strange intrelude in this torrent of campaining is the time spent by Caesar in Egypt, when he had an affair with the beautiful young Queen Cleopatra, who bore him a son. After this he proceeded to Asia Minor, where Pharnaces, the son and murdered of King Mithridates, was Causing trouble. Caesar made short work of him. In his message to the Senate he reported “Veni, vidi, vici”, “I came, I saw, I conquered. At length he returned to Rome, and was according yet another triumph he had had four already.

Vast crowds acclaimed him as he passed in his chariot through the streets on his way to the Capitol. Great hopes were centered upon him, great things were expected of him. The old system must soon come to birth. We shall never know what vast schemes were fermenting in the brain of the man who was now hailed as Impector, the first of the emperors ot walk the stage of history, but we may perhaps get some idea of them from what he managed to accomplish in the all too short period that was left to him. For the most part they were young men and vigorous, and he was middle-aged and grown heavy and less active than in the days when he had soldiered with his men in Gual.

But he put up a good fight. He struggled, unarmed though he was, tried to push them sway, and then struck at them with his meta stilus or pen. Then he saw Brutus was among his assailants. “what, you too, Brutus” as he said and convering his body with his robe so that he should fall decently, suffered himself to be overborne. He fell, with twenty-three wounds in his body, at the foot of the statue of his great rival Pompey, which, with characteristic magnanimity, he had allowed to be re-erected in the Capitol. Such was their mad fury, some of the murderers had wounded one another in their bloody work.

Now they ruched from the scene, sxultingly shouting that the Tyrant was no more. Thy called upon the people who were there to rejoice with them, but the people hung their heads, or muttered a prayer or fled. So Caesar died “the noblest man”, to quote Shakespeares immortal lines again, “that ever lived in the tide of times Bibliography 100 Great Kings, Queens and Rulers of the World Edited by John Canning School Library Journal Audio Recording Drama Theater Julius Caear http://homepages.iol.ie/~coolmine/typ/romans/roman s6.html Julius Caesar http:library.thinkingquest.org/17120/data/bios/use rs/caesar/page 1.html The Word Book Encyclopedia Julius Caesar Vol 3.

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