The Life and Dictatorship of Julius Caesar
Anthony Ambrosius Aurelius
“On March 15, 44 B.C., Julius Caesar was on his way to work at the Senate House, the building where he died. When Caesar arrived and sat down, one of his friends pulled upon their toga, a signal to his compatriots that the time to strike was now. A group of 20 plus friends, colleagues, and politicians, surrounded Caesar and began to stab him repeatedly, hitting him in the face, the thighs, and the chest. Caesar fought back with his pen, the only weapon he had available.
The scene of Caesars murder has been immortalized in hundreds of paintings as well as in William Shakespeare’s tragedy play, Julius Caesar. It was Shakespeare who created the famous phrase, “et tu, Brute?” meaning “you too, Brutus?” in Latin, in reference to Caesar’s best friend Brutus being part of the coup d’état.
The Rome, Italy of Caesars era was much different than that of popular culture as no Colosseum or gleaming white marble edifices existed, as this was an early period of Ancient Roman history. During Caesars era, Rome was populated with 1,000,000 (1 million) people, most of them living in squalid, low rise, brick buildings. This version of Rome was proto-democratic as all members of society could vote aside from women and slaves. True power however laid with a few wealthy, aristocratic families, like that of Caesar.
In 69 B.C., Caesar was sent to Spain as an elected official of the Republic of Rome. By this period, through a combination of conquest and alliance, the power of Rome extended through the whole of modern day Italy, into North Africa, the Middle East, southern France, and most of Spain. While away on campaign, on a tiny island off the coast of Spain, near Cadiz, Spain, (pronounced “kah- deeth”) Caesar had a chance encounter which dramatically altered the trajectory of his life. Caesar stumbled upon a statue of Alexander the Great, a person who had conquered half of the known world by the age of 33. Caesar began to cry, asking himself and his friends “isn’t it terrible that at my age, Alexander the Great was already king of so much of the world? But look at me, I’ve done nothing at all remarkable, yet”. It’s unclear if this story is fantastical or factual as the original temple which once stood upon the island and housed the statue of Alexander the Great, has been lost to time. Because of this, historians are unsure if this account is factually based.”