100 - 44 BC
Caesar was one of the greatest generals in the history of the West,
and he laid the foundations of the Roman imperial state.
Gaius Juluis Caesar was born into a patrician family in Rome, but early on he opposed the rule of a small conservative group. He became a follower of Gaius Marius, a great popular leader, and Sulla, the aristocratic dicatator of Rome, forced Caesar to leave. He went to Greece to study philosophy, but was later permitted to return to Rome, where he occupied a number of public offices.
In 61 BC he became governor of a Spanish province. When he returned to Rome, he allied himself with Pompey and Crassus in the First Triumvirate and was elected consul in 59 BC.
In 58 BC Caesar began a number of military campaigns in Gaul (France), campaigns that established his military genius. During his nine years in Gaul, he lost only two battles; he conquered all territory east to the Rhine, and invaded Britain twice.
After the Roman Senate instructed him in 49 BC to lay down his command, he crossed the Rubicon, a stream that separated his provinces from Italy. With this act Caesar provoked a civil war, his greatest step toward grasping supreme power. He had himself appointed dictator and consul, as well as tribune for life.
He followed Pompey to Greece and then to Egypt and defeated him. In Egypt he fell in love with Cleopatra. Before returning to Rome, Caesar won the war he fought to make Cleopatra ruler of Egypt.
After his conquests Caesar attempted to reorganize the Roman Republic along monarchial lines. The expiring republicanism flared up in a last protest and Caesar was murdered in Rome.
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