The Life of Jesus in Harmony
After his year as consul, Julius Caesar left Rome to serve as the proconsul or governor of Gaul (France). There,
between 58 and 51 BC, he defeated innumerable Celtic and Belgic armies, massacring
hundreds of thousands in the process. He twice invaded Britain, though it was
not made a province until the later invasion of the Emperor Claudius in AD 43.
When Pompey persuaded the Senate to order Caesar to lay down his arms at the end of his
period as proconsul, Caesar challenged them by crossing the River Rubicon in 49
BC. As this marked the boundary between his province of Cisalpine Gaul and Italy, the die was cast for war. In the civil war which followed, Pompey's
followers outnumbered Caesar's. But in 48 BC, on the plains of Pharsalus in northern
Greece, Caesar decisively defeated Pompey. Hoping to find refuge in Egypt, Pompey
fled to Alexandria but was murdered as he landed.
Caesar traveled to Egypt in pursuit of his enemy, and there became infatuated
with Queen Cleopatra, the last of the Ptolemaic rulers of Egypt. After
extricating himself from a difficult military position in Alexandria with the aid of
the Jews, Caesar proceeded to mop up pockets of opposition with rapidity. He had
great plans and reforms in mind: he revised the calendar (his 'Julian'
calendar, with minor changes introduced by Pope Gregory, is the one we use today), and
planned a colony for Corinth. But because he arrogantly took up the powers of
dictator, some of his close friends, including Brutus, joined in a plot to
assassinate him in 44 BC, on the Ides of March, the 15th.
In a speech immortalized in drama by Shakespeare 'Friends, Romans, countrymen'
- Mark Antony aroused the people to a fever pitch against the assassins who found it
prudent to leave the country. Much to his own chagrin Antony found that Caesar's will
did not name him heir; instead Caesar's young grandnephew, Octavian, was nominated successor. After some bitter feuding, Antony and Octavian,
together with Lepidus, formed a Second Triumvirate in 43 BC to pursue Caesar's murderers. One of their first acts was to
sentence to death the orator Cicero, who had bitterly attacked Antony in a series of
The crucial battle was fought at Philippi, Macedonia, in 42 BC. Brutus and
Cassius, the leaders of the assassins, were disheartened, partly because of faulty
communications, and committed suicide. The victors divided the Empire:
Octavian was to rule the west and Antony the east. Antony summoned Cleopatra to appear
before him at Tarsus. He was captivated by her, though he was married to
Octavian's sister, the noble Octavia. Egged on by the ambitious queen, Antony
eventually divorced Octavia and proclaimed Caesarion, Cleopatra's son, the legitimate
heir of Caesar.
But outside the bay of Actium in north-western Greece, Antony's fleet was
outmaneuvered by Octavian's admiral, Agrippa in 31 BC. Instead of attempting to
rally his dispirited troops, Antony shamelessly joined Cleopatra in flight. After
a half-hearted attempt to defend Egypt, he committed suicide. Cleopatra clasped
a poisonous asp to her breast, and was buried at Antony's side in Alexandria.
- Julius Caesar, after defeating the Gaul's and eliminating his political enemies, returned
to Rome where he received the greatest triumphal celebration any Roman general
had ever known.
- He received almost every power than an obedient Senate could confer on him.
- In 46 BC, he was made dictator for ten years, given command of all the
armies, sole control of all money, and authority to draw up lists of senators.
- He was immune from the veto of tribunes and could ignore the assembly
because his power came from his control of the army and his personal wealth.
- Late in 46 BC, he devoted himself to civil reform.
- Army veterans were given land in Italy, new buildings were constructed, a
new forum was planned, and the course of the Tiber River was altered.
- As pontifex maximus, supreme high priest, he reformed the Roman calendar to bring it into line with the solar year.
- The Julian calendar based on studies of Egyptian astronomers was used until
the sixth century when it was replaced with the Gregorian calendar.
- By 45 BC, he had been granted the right to wear the purple toga of Roman
kings, to use the laurel crown, and to sit in a gold chair. His image was set up
in all temples in Italy and his likeness appeared on coins.
- Early in 44 BC, the Senate declared him "dictator for life." His next step
would be to assume the title of king and found a dynasty.
The Plot to Murder Caesar
- The plot to murder Caesar was conceived by men who feared his assumption of
arbitrary powers and his appropriation of senatorial responsibilities.
- These men also resented Caesar's popularity with the masses of people and
with his soldiers.
- Altogether, sixty men were involved in the plot to kill Caesar.
- Caesar heard rumors about the plot to murder him but dismissed them.
- On March 15, the Ides of March, he went to a meeting with the Senate on the
porch of the theater of Pompey.
- At 11 o'clock in the morning Caesar was asked by one of the plotters to
recall his brother from exile.
- Caesar refused to listen to him, the conspirator insisted, and as he did so,
the other conspirators gathered round, completely surrounding Caesar.
- Stabbed twenty-three times, Caesar fell at the foot of Pompey's statue.
- Caesar's death brought on another civil war which ended the Republic and
ushered in the new era of the Empire.
Julius Caesar (Time Chart)
102-100 BC Roman records show birth. He claimed descent from the gods.
79 BC Elected to the college of priests.
60 BC Elected consul and chooses the provinces he wants to govern.
59-49 BC Conquers vast new territories for the Roman state.
58 BC. Takes on parts of northern Italy, Gaul, Germany, and Britain.
49 B.C. Crosses the Rubicon River and takes Rome.
48 B.C. Defeats Pompey at Pharsalus, Greece.
44 B.C. Murdered by Roman senators who thought he wanted to be king.