Ancient History

What was Julius Caesar known for besides being a Roman leader?
Answered by Science Channel
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    Science Channel

  1. If you've studied Latin, you might know that Julius Caesar was not just a statesman and general, but also an author. "Commentaries on the Gallic War" is about his conquest of France and Belgium. Caesar also was an orator. In fact, he hoped to study oratory in Rhodes, but was captured by pirates on the way there in 76 B.C. (Friends paid his ransom and he later returned to attack the pirates.)

    Of course, his more "leaderly" accomplishments are indeed Caesar's claim to fame. He was the military leader of Cisalpine and Transalpine Gaul beginning in 58 B.C. He expanded Roman control over all of Gaul (modern-day France and Belgium) and became not only a successful but beloved military leader. At this time he also invaded Britain but didn't occupy it.

    In 53 B.C. Marcus Licinius Crassus, who together with Caesar and Pompey made up the Triumvirate, died. Meanwhile, Pompey had been made sole consul and wanted to rule alone, so he and the Senate worked to undermine Caesar.

    At the end of 50 B.C. Caesar was required to send many of his soldiers back to Rome or be considered an outlaw. He refused and instead led his legions across the Rubicon stream into Italy. The Senate fled, and Pompey and his army eventually were defeated by Caesar, who became the dictator of Rome for just 11 days before being elected consul. This particular part of Caesar's life, incidentally, sheds light on the origin of the general expression, "crossing the rubicon," whose usage implies one is passing some point of no return.

    Julius Caesar's name lives on in the month July -- for Julius -- and the titles Kaiser and Czar, which derive from Caesar. There seems to be no truth to the claim that Caesar salad was named after the ancient Roman leader, however. William Shakespeare and George Bernard Shaw, among others, wrote plays about him.

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