Up Rise to Power Important Friends and Enemies Significant Events Dictatorship Assassination Assessment







"With immense skill he played the game of politics, using the weapons of his day to win power and preeminence. That he carried through so great a programme of reform in so short a time was due in part to his desire and flair for administrative efficiency which he valued more than the support of public opinion".

" Caesar must have realized that the Republic could not be revived in its old form- Sulla's career and the fate of his constitution had shown that. A selfish oligarchy of nobles and capitalists, who exploited the provincials in the interests of themselves and of an idle urban mob, had failed to preserve law and peace....That Caesar's mind must have been moving towards some form of monarchy as the only practical solution of the constitutional problem is probable. But an outraged group of nobles, many of whom honestly but blindly identified the Republic government of their day with Liberty, prevented Caesar from revealing to the world the solution that he would have applied."       Scullard

" Therefore while the unanimous verdict of antiquity proclaimed Caesar a great man, not a few saw in him a" great bad man', and mainly as a destroyer."   Cary

"The termination of the civil war between Caesar and Pompey forms a new epoch in the Roman History, at which a Republic, which had subsisted with unrivalled glory during a period of about four hundred and sixty years, relapsed into a state of despotism, whence it never more could emerge. So sudden a transition from prosperity to the ruin of public freedom, without the intervention of any foreign enemy, excites a reasonable conjecture, that the constitution in which it could take place, however vigorous in appearance, must have lost that soundness of political health which had enabled it to endure through so many ages." Suetonius


Thus Caesar died on the day they call the Ides of March, about the middle of Anthesterion, the day which the seer said he would not outlive. In the morning Caesar made fun of him, and said, 'The Ides have come.' Unabashed, the seer replied, 'But not gone', and Caesar, ignoring not only the predictions of this sort given him with such confidence by the seer, but also the other portents I mentioned earlier, left the house and met his death. He was in the fifty-sixth year of his life, a man who was extremely lucky in everything, gifted with a divine spark, disposed to great deeds, and fittingly compared with Alexander       
Appian  History of the Civil Wars

…according to him, our problems are insoluble: ‘for if a man of Caesar’s genius could find no way out, who will find one now?’” Cicero to Atticus, April 7, 44 BC  

"This love of honour and passion for distinction were inspired into them and cherished in them by Caesar himself, who, by his unsparing distribution of money and honours, showed them that he did not heap up wealth from the wars for his own luxury, or the gratifying his private pleasures, but that all he received was but a public fund laid by the reward and encouragement of valour, and that he looked upon all he gave to deserving soldiers as so much increase to his own riches. Added to this also, there was no danger to which he did not willingly expose himself, no labour from which he pleaded an exemption. His contempt of danger was not so much wondered at by his soldiers because they knew how much he coveted honour."    Plutarch "At the time of his death Caesar was fully fifty-six years old, but he had survived Pompey not much more than four years, while of the power and dominion which he had sought all his life at so great risks, and barely achieved at last, of this he had reaped no fruit but the name of it only, and a glory which had awakened envy on the part of his fellow citizens. section 2However, the great guardian-genius of the man, whose help he had enjoyed through life, followed upon him even after death as an avenger of his murder, driving and tracking down his slayers over every land and sea until not one of them was left, but even those who in any way soever either put hand to the deed or took part in the plot were punished."  Plutarch


Caesar's aim was the highest which a man is allowed to propose himself - the political, military, intellectual, and moral regeneration of his own deeply decayed nation [...] The hard school of thirty years' experience changed his views as to the means by which this aim was to be reached; his aim itself remained the same in the times of his hopeless humiliation and of his unlimited plenitude of power, in the times when as demagogue and conspirator he stole towards it by paths of darkness, and in those when, as joint possessor of the supreme power and then as monarch, he worked at his task in the full light of day before the eyes of the world. [...] According to his original plan he had purposed to reach his object [...] without force of arms, and throughout eighteen years he had as leader of the people's party moved exclusively amid political plans and intrigues - until, reluctantly convinced of the necessity for a military support, he, when already forty years of age, put himself at the head of an army.

Theodor Mommsen

Caesar, if anyone, deserves to be called a master of politics. He was equally great in understanding general political trends as in directing them. With consummate skill he handled the machinery of political details, without ever sacrificing his major aim of winning decisive power....What a tragedy lies over the life of the greatest genius produced by Rome- to be snuffed out by Romans who imagined that they were acting on behalf of their res publica! His demonic genius raised him in every respect above all his contemporaries- through his spiritual and physical vigour...through his free ranging gaze which unfettered by traditional concepts, every where discovered new possibilities. Thus although he was a Roman through and through ....nevertheless the flights of his genius lifted him to a lonely eminence where others were unable to follow him."

 Matthius Gelzer, Caesar; Politician and Statesmen





About Caesar’s ultimate designs there can be opinion but no certainty. The acts and projects of his Dictatorships do not reveal them. For the rest, the evidence is partisan- or posthumous. No statement of unrealized intentions is a safe guide to history, for it is unverifiable and therefore the most attractive form of misrepresentation…… If Caesar must be judged, it is by facts and not by alleged intentions.. The Question of ultimate intentions becomes irrelevant. Caesar was slain for what he was, not for what he might become.”

  Ronald Syme  Roman Revolution








"One is struck by his rich imagination, his immense technical and tactical inventiveness, his amazing ability to assess a situation rapidly and thoroughly....To all these qualities should be added the magnanimity he showed to his opponents in the civil war, the much admired Caesarian clemency."

Christian Meier, Julius Caesar,

" Caesar is often accused of making his transition from republic to monarchy too abruptly. If there is any ground in this criticism, it should not be sought in the fact that he provoked a successful conspiracy against his own life, .....A more serious problem is whether he was not throwing old institutions on the scrap heap before he had provided efficient substitutes.....In any case the chaos that followed his death is no proof of failure in his statesmanship. The responsibility for this falls on those who cut short his work of reconstruction before it had been completed." Cary, A History of Rome
"A varied programme which, had it not been cut off by Caesar's death, would have taken shape as a coherent, comprehensive attempt to promote equitable government and economic expansion in Italy and the Roman world.”

" The gift which contributed most largely to Caesar's success was an abnormally energetic ability to get things done. This was conspicuously apparent in the occupation of warfare in which he excelled all his rivals.... His character was an amalgamation of genius, method, culture, thoroughness, intellect and industry."

 Michael Grant on Caesar's reforms

"He was on the whole a moderate statesman, who was nevertheless unable to avoid the impression that he put through his moderate policies by ruthless force... Caesar did not have the gift of what the Romans called humanitas. Pliny the Younger defined it as the capacity to win the affections of lesser folk without impinging on greater. Caesar ushered in a new epoch in Roman history, but he relied so much on his personal charm that he overlooked the need for tact."

 Zwi Yavetz, Julius Caesar