The famous work Parallel Lives by Plutarch explores the lives of prominent citizens of Ancient Greece and Rome. The author lived in the 1st century A.D., which is why his information regarding the events of the ancient period are valuable (Mossman 565). Being a Greek-Roman author and philosopher, Plutarch may have been partially biased to some of the personalities, but his works still hold significant value. One of the pieces is dedicated to the life and feats of Julius Caesar, one of the key personalities in the history of the world. His figure is viewed in comparison to one of the greatest commanders of all time, Alexander the Great. To this end, he made many efforts both on battlefields across Europe and the Mediterranean and in the political environment of Ancient Rome. At the same time, Julius Caesar acknowledged the necessity of a balance between personal fame and the strength of its nation. For him, Rome was as important as his own success, as he wanted to see his Empire strong, resilient, and influential.
Julius Caesar was born in a noble family, which contributed to his development and education. Since his teenage years, Caesar became engaged with Roman politics and expressed his radical views freely, which would not be possible for a commoner. In fact, he stood openly against the Roman dictator of the time, Lucius Cornelius Sulla, and subsequently had to leave the city to survive. Caesar only returned to Rome upon the dictator’s death in 78 B.C., but he managed to retain his active political views and impetus to make a difference (Plutarch). Using the wealth, connection, and experience of his family, Julius Caesar built a political career. In fact, he actively risked his fortune by going into debt to but political support, which spoke of his confidence in his plans.
Apparently, Julius Caesar was viewed positively by the Roman nobility, which resulted in new appointments for him. At one point, he became a military commande of a large regiment in Gaul, where he applied his talents to conquer this territory. Over the course of the campaign, Caesar proved his military talent and led his people to historic victories against the long-term enemy of the Empire. These feats, as well as his political success, partially relied on Caesar’s eloquence and ability to inspire his followers. He was a strong man, not afraid of trying new tactics that extended beyond warfare. For example, he inflicted additional damage on his enemies by destroying their harvests and supply. With this combination of wit, eloquence, and warfare talent, Caesar’s forces managed to defeat the tribes that threatened the borders of Rome for a long time.
In the end, Julius Caesar rose to the top of Rome’s political landscape, becoming the ruler of the Empire. This path was accompanied by fragile alliances, bribes, and betrayals, but he prevailed and became one of the greatest personalities in Ancient history. In addition to the military feats, Caesar expanded the Roman senate and introduced several social and political reforms that contributed to the wealth of his people. Interestingly, in spite of previous clashes, Ceasar proved that he was capable of forgiving his enemies, unlike the previous dictators of Rome. Nevertheless, the history of conflict was not forgotten, which is why he ultimately was assassinated by his associates, including the infamous betrayal by Brutus.
His story shows that some people are ready to go to extremes to achieve what they want. In Caesar’s case, this includes waging endless wars, both domestically and internally, as well as using money and connections. The outcome of his path is related to the eternal question of whether the end justifies the means. It also implies that Roman society was not at all homogeneous, and corruption was quite prevalent. To this day, Julius Caesar has remained a vivid example of a talented and resilient person who, despite some controversies, had his name forever written in the history of the world.
Mossman, Judith. Speech in Ancient Greek Literature. Brill, 2021.
Plutarch. The Parallel Lives. Loeb Classical Library, 1919.