Gaius Julius Caesar: The Assassination Rome is a place of great historical achievements. Rich in history, it reveals to us a great deal about man and society. One of the most important characters in history is Gaius Julius Caesar. His very name strikes images of a powerful leader. Responsible for bringing Rome to great heights, he is said to be the man who changed the course of history, accomplishing the impossible and helping to further the Roman Empire. His military skill and excellent political knowledge, brought him great power.
Yet having survived brutal battles on foreign soil, he died of murder- by Romans in Rome. Why was one of the greatest soldiers in all history, a man who, more than any other, personified Rome's rise to glory, brutally stabbed to death? Beneath the persuasive allure of his charm, lay an insatiable hunger for power. Although he was strong and clever enough to wield that power, his tragic flaw, an unbearable arrogance, brought him to a tragic end. It was Caesar's overwhelming ambition and arrogant personality that resulted from his success, that made his assassination inevitable.
Caesar was a fortunate man; he had lived in a great city, seen much of the western world, loved a foreign queen and accumulated enormous wealth. In a world where most rarely left their villages and were always under the shadow of debt, famine, and conquest, Gaius Julius Caesar was privileged. Throughout Caesar's life, he effectively displayed great political and military skill and an undeniable ability to use propaganda to promote himself. Despite his overconfidence and great abilities, he was blind to any threats posed by the Senate. Caesar had come to believe that he was invincible. The senators had become increasingly tired of Caesar's arrogance and was determined to put a stop to his rule.
Ever since Caesar became powerful, he had consistently ignored the senators. This elimination of the Senate's power was enough to significantly upset its members. A conspiracy was born and Caesar's unavoidable assassination took place on March 15, in front of the Senate steps. Caesar died with his head hidden in his toga, his pride evident even in his death.
Caesar achieved a great amount of admiration and credit through military achievements; he also effectively used propaganda to his advantage. When he had conquered Gaul, he claimed to have acted for the sake of Rome's greater glory. The truth was, he was acting to further his own glory. Dozens of tribes were coerced to Caesar's will as he crisscrossed the countryside, inflicting what effectively amounted to a massacre of the Gallic peoples. Most of his actions in Gaul were carried out simply to impress his peers and voters back in Rome. To further his self promotion, Caesar himself recorded his campaign in Gaul, in the Commentaries, a great Latin literature text.
Referring to himself as 'Caesar', as if he were a objective observer, the Commentaries naturally portrayed him as a great and successful leader (Ong, Caesar: Causes of his Assassination). Caesar knew how to use propaganda very effectively... Caesar was beginning to distinguish himself as a very powerful man. His fierce ambition and his determination to stop at nothing were becoming increasingly obvious. When Caesar's year as governor came to an end, elections for consul were at hand.
Though the Senate had awarded him with a Triumph, a highly prized award for military excellence, Caesar refused, allowing his ambition to take precedence over all else (Kom roff, Julius Caesar, p 56). His bribery and temporary groveling had paid off. Within weeks Caesar was elected consul, legally 2 years too young. Bibulous, the second consul was physically bullied into staying home (Graves, The Twelve Caesars, p 26). Caesar was determined to have full power over Rome. Claiming that he represented the people of Rome as a popular, he used his sharp mind, and public appeal to successfully convince the people into becoming his supporters (Grabsky, p.
34) With the fame, fortune and power that he acquired during his campaigns, Caesar significantly changed Rome- both architecturally and politically. It became increasingly obvious that Caesar had become well accustomed to power. However, Caesar used this power to improve Rome, not allowing himself to become too indulgent in personal pleasures. Before Caesar left to defeat the Parthinians, he increased the number of senators from 600-900, showing favor to those who had helped in recent wars (Bernard, Caesar and Rome, p 35).
He even gave senatorial status and citizenship to non Romans from Italian cities- thus taking a momentous step towards changing Rome from a city state into a world empire (Nard on, The Importance of Caesar, p 25). But Caesar had long lost the support of his people. By this time, the people had allowed Caesar become dictator strictly out of fear and idolatry. All the while, the Senate became increasingly upset with Caesar (Ong, Caesar: Causes for His Assassination). Although it was not the entire Senate that was opposed to Caesar, a small group of senators had come to believe, that for the sake of Rome, Caesar must be eliminated (Grabsky, p 40). Caesar failed to see the threat, as he effectively ignored them.
This is where Caesar made his fatal mistake. By nearly eliminating the power of the Senate, he provided an ample opportunity for upheaval. Caesar let his own ambition cloud his judgment- and it cost him dearly. From the moment he stepped into power, Caesar had ignored the Senate. He took over forcibly and let their protests fall on deaf ears (Grabsky, p 41). The anger and resentment resulting from Caesar, led to a deadly conspiracy.
What made his death so tragic yet inevitable was his incredible skill and cleverness. He had a sharp mind, which without he would have been any average Roman citizen. He successfully proved his wisdom by bringing about such significant change in Rome. Without Caesar, Rome would not have developed the characteristics that contributed to the development of society in much of the western world.
Caesar also showed uncommon ability to predict forthcoming events based on he people it involved. It was this ability that made him so incredible on the battlefield. However, when it came to politics, his ambition and determination were so overpowering, he was not able to see the apparent threat of the Senate. Caesar was no doubt proved to be a formidable character- driven by relentless ambition, he always reached his goals. His methods were corrupt and his actions uncanny but he made up for his tyranny with his clever mind and unseen skill. He used his impressive military talent, and the ability to use propaganda to promote himself in politics.
His ultimate goal was to achieve utter and complete power. His insatiable hunger for power and relentless ambition was his ultimate undoing. By failing to see the threat of the senate, as well as failing to see his own arrogance and flawed personality, Caesar made his assassination inevitable. To many people, Julius Caesar is the megalomaniac of history, to others his very name conjures up images of a great military leader, impressive politician, and a overall formidable figure.
Gaius Julius Caesar will always be remembered for his incredible feats and his great impact on the development of Rome; and of course for his unmistakably inflated ego.