Julius caesar.

Julius Caesar was a Roman general and politician who named himself dictator of the Roman Empire, a rule that lasted less than one year before he was famously assassinated by political rivals in 44 B.C.

Anthropology, Archaeology, Social Studies, World History

Gaius Julius Caesar was a crafty military leader who rose through the ranks of the Roman Republic, ultimately declaring himself dictator for life and shaking the foundations of Rome itself.

Photograph by James L. Stanfield, National Geographic

Gaius Julius Caesar was a crafty military leader who rose through the ranks of the Roman Republic, ultimately declaring himself dictator for life and shaking the foundations of Rome itself.

Julius Caesar was a Roman general and politician who named himself dictator of the Roman Empire, a rule that lasted less than one year before he was famously assassinated by political rivals in 44 B.C.E.

Caesar was born on July 12 or 13 in 100 B.C.E. to a noble family. During his youth, the Roman Republic was in chaos . Seizing the opportunity, Caesar advanced in the political system and briefly became governor of Spain, a Roman province.

Returning to Rome, he formed political alliances that helped him become governor of Gaul , an area that included what is now France and Belgium. His Roman troops conquered Gallic tribes by exploiting tribal rivalries . Throughout his eight-year governorship , he increased his military power and, more importantly, acquired plunder from Gaul . When his rivals in Rome demanded he return as a private citizen , he used these riches to support his army and marched them across the Rubicon River, crossing from Gaul into Italy. This sparked a civil war between Caesar’s forces and forces of his chief rival for power, Pompey, from which Caesar emerged victorious .

Returning to Italy, Caesar consolidated his power and made himself dictator . He wielded his power to enlarge the senate, created needed government reforms, and decreased Rome’s debt. At the same time, he sponsored the building of the Forum Iulium and rebuilt two city-states, Carthage and Corinth. He also granted citizenship to foreigners living within the Roman Republic.

In 44 B.C.E., Caesar declared himself dictator for life. His increasing power and great ambition agitated many senators who feared Caesar aspired to be king. Only a month after Caesar’s declaration, a group of senators, among them Marcus Junius Brutus, Caesar’s second choice as heir, and Gaius Cassius Longinus assassinated Caesar in fear of his absolute power.

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Home — Essay Samples — History — Julius Caesar — Julius Caesar: One Of The Most Prominent Figures In The History Of Rome


Julius Caesar: One of The Most Prominent Figures in The History of Rome

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essays about julius caesar

Julius Caesar - Essay Examples And Topic Ideas For Free

Julius Caesar was a Roman general, statesman, and notable author of Latin prose who played a critical role in the events leading to the demise of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire. Essays on Julius Caesar might explore his military campaigns, political strategies, or contributions to Roman literature. Other discussions might delve into his controversial actions, his relationships with other significant figures of his time, or the events leading to his assassination and its aftermath. An exploration of his legacy and portrayal in subsequent Roman, medieval, and modern histories or a comparison with other historical or contemporary political leaders might also provide insight into his lasting influence. We’ve gathered an extensive assortment of free essay samples on the topic of Julius Caesar you can find at PapersOwl Website. You can use our samples for inspiration to write your own essay, research paper, or just to explore a new topic for yourself.

Mark Antony’s Described Julius Caesar

Brutus had just spoken saying that Caesar was a tyrant. however, brutus was one of caesar's assassins. In this play Antony spoke after him in order to help him to argue against his point. This scene has taken place in the roman forum. Mark Antony is addressing the people of rome. In this speech, Anthony agree to follow the speech of brutus and since he agreed to not blame the conspirators, Mark Antony uses the three rhetorical techniques to disabuse […]

Women Roles in Julius Caesar

In the play Julius caesar by William Shakespeare roles of women were briefly included. The two women were Portia, the wife of Brutus, and Calpurnia, the wife of Julius Caesar. These roles are important factors in the foreshadowing and development in the play. To look at the role of women in the play you must look at what these two women did for the characters in the play as well as develop the play. For the first example of foreshadowing […]

Marcus Brutus a Close Friend to Caesar

Brutus is easily the most complex character in William Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar. He is a powerful figure in the public's eye, but also appears as a loving friend, a husband, a dignified military leader, a master to his servants, and a man of honor. This tragic hero's sense of honor seems to make him a target for others to try and manipulate. The tragedy of Julius Caesar, is mainly based on the assassination of Julius Caesar. The character who […]

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Julius Caesar Rise to Power

The purpose of this paper is to research Julius Caesar’s contribution to the world. Some people argue that Caesar was a selfish power-hungry emperor while others believe he was an intelligent strategist who developed revolutionary ideas that are still used today. To investigate these claims, several topics will be researched including the details of his rule and the many changes he made to develop Rome into an empire. Some specific research topics include Caesar’s rise to power (The First Triumvirate), […]

Fate in Julius Caesar

Fate is inevitable, unavoidable, and ultimately ends in death. In The Tragedy of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, multiple characters experience a deadly fate, but it is not completely unavoidable. People also have control of their own lives and the ability to make decisions, affecting them and others. Shakespeare uses characters in this play to illustrate the theme of fate and to project how easily it can be tampered with. Fate, as a theme in this play, is involved in […]

Book Review “Cleopatra: a Life”

In her book Cleopatra: A Life, Stacy Schiff describes in great detail the tense events taking place in ancient Egypt before and after Cleopatra's reign as Queen. Schiff is an acclaimed nonfiction author. She has won the coveted Pulitzer Prize and has written plenty of historical books, essays, and columns featuring historical women such as: Véra (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov): Portrait of a Marriage, Indelible Portraits of Women's Lives, and The Witches: Salem, 1692. Schiff is nondiscriminatory as she presents her […]

Themes of Omens and Superstitions in Julius Caesar

 The Tragedy of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare. This play has many omens and superstitions, they play a very prominent role that moves the story along drastically. Some examples of these superstitious are the Feast of Lupercal, the soothsayer, Calphurnia's dream, and the strange occurrences described at the end of act one. The Feast of Lupercal, The Feast of Lupercal is a festival to celebrate Pan, the goddess of fertility. The superstition around this festival is that if you are […]

Julius Caesar Vs. Abraham Lincoln

Many people have heard of the name Julius Caesar, but not many know the story behind the name. A man more famously known is Abraham Lincoln, who played a vital role like Julius Caesar. Both Julius Caesar and Abraham Lincoln have played significant roles during their lifetime, mainly in politics and as public speakers. There are many comparisons between the two political leaders, with only a few contrasts. For example, them both being assassinated is one major comparison between the […]

Napoleon and Caesar Comparison

Bonaparte's prosperity as a tactical pioneer and hero can likewise be found in another incredible pioneer, Julius Caesar. Both Napoleon and Caesar accomplished incredible brilliance by freeing their nations once again from disturbance. It was Caesar, that Napoleon demonstrated himself after, he needed to be as incredible, if not more prominent than Caesar. Looking to the past, Napoleon understood what steps to take to make progress Napoleon ate up books on the craft of war. Significantly more than one volume […]

Julius Caesar: Brutus Tragic Hero

Brutus is known to be unfortunate legend in perspective of steadfastness he shows up toward his friend and country. Notwithstanding the way that there was a to a great degree strong fraternity among Brutus and Caesar, yet there was a relationship that was more grounded than relationship that Brutus had with Caesar which happen to be the relationship with all inclusive community of the country Rome. Brutus genuinely needn't bother accompanied by Caesar to create and be so unbelievable and […]

Julius Caesar an Influential Political Leader

Julius Caesar was born in 100 BC and was assassinated on March 15, 44 BC. Caesar was born into a family that wasn't dominant in politics. However, due to his military and oratory skills, Caesar rose through the Roman political system. Pompey was an influential political leader in Rome who led vast military expeditions as well as being a key ally to Caesar. Their close relationship allowed Ceasar to get voted in as consul in 59 BC. This was only […]

The most Iconic Rulers of Egypt

Who was a one of the rulers of Egypt? Cleopatra was a ruler of Egypt in fact she was the queen. Cleopatra was also a very beautiful queen but that's not all she is, she not always a pretty face like Hollywood always makes her. Queen Cleopatra was the queen of Egypt but she was not the only one at the throne see she inherited the throne when she was 18 but had to share it with her 12 year […]

The Tragedy of Julius Caesar

Compare-and-Contrast Essay: The Tragedy of Julius CaesarBrutus and Mark Antony had two exclusively unfamiliar motives and itinerary in their monologue to the Roman people. Brutus' try to convince the peopleof restless Romans that Rome has been saved thanks to the brave plotters for killing the covetous, lust for power, Caesar. Antony, a loyal friend of Caesar's, going to show Brutus and the plotters on what they really are: nothing but bloodthirsty assassins who executed Caesar out of distress and insecurity […]

Loyalty in Julius Caesar

In William Shakespeare’s play, The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, the character Portia, second wife to Brutus, seemed to be one of the most burdened with secrets. There were only two women in the play, and Portia was the one who proved strength over most of the male characters, both physically and mentally. Portia was born between 73 BC and 64 BC and loved philosophy and had an obvious understanding of courage (Wikipedia.org). Portia was the only wife in the play […]

Life of Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar is one of the most prominent historical figures in worldwide, who greatly impacted the path of Rome. However, like all historical figures, Caesar did not get to where he did only by coincidence. In order to understand Caesar and what he did throughout his life, one must first understand his rise to power, his achievements, and his death. According to “Julius Caesar” in the year 100 BC, Julius Caesar was born on July 12th or the 13th in […]

Julius Caesar in History

Julius Caesar was born on July 13, 100 BC. He was a controversial figure of ancient Rome. A military general and a Roman politician, he changed the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire. Julius Caesar greatly changed Rome's economy and significantly enlarged Rome's territories, which made the Roman Empire one of the largest in history. Julius Caesar was a very talented individual who had mastered different areas of knowledge, along with being very popular with the common people of Rome. […]

Cleopatra the Seventh Queen of the Nile

Arguably one of the most famous Egyptian queens, Cleopatra was a femme-fatale and a powerful women. The Egyptian queen was a very influential political leader, she used her wit and ambition to achieve many goals for her country. Although lacking in external beauty, Cleopatra's mind was gorgeously fascinating and she became a woman known for her intelligence and appeal. She was a very influential woman, a great leader for Egypt and held a much stronger monarch than any of the […]

Julius Caesar Personality Biography

As a person who was cherished but also resented by many, Julius Caesar left a valuable impression on those during his lifetime, and even to this day. Although Caesar was a skillful leader who helped extend the Roman Republic, in reality, he was a greedy, immoral man who used the factors of manipulation in order to bring himself to success. Born on July 12, 100 BC, Julius Caesar’s birth was said to have “marked the start of a new era” […]

The Journey of Julius Caesar Written by Suetonius

Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, Lives of the Caesars is an important account of the journey of Julius Caesar written by Suetonius. In this selection, it is shown how Caesar came to power and the problems he encountered along the way. The reader can also see the distaste that the citizens and the Senate had for him, eventually leading to his assassination. Suetonius explains how the actions of Caesar led to changes in the governing of Rome and gives insight on his […]

Two Julius Caesar Speaches

Losing a loved one no matter the relation is always rough on a person. Whether be a grandparent, or a close friend, their absence affects us in some way. Death is no new concept and has been something philosophers have pondered since the beginning of time and many have created their own theories about what happens after death to coupe with trauma. But in the end its how we coupe with this sudden loss that truly tests our morals. All […]

Julius Caesar in Shakespeare’s Play

William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar as a world-renowned play gains tremendous analysis at various perspectives, such as characters of Caesar, plot of this play, etc.; however, the fake democracy in this play and Shakespeare's satire of it seem to be a vacancy of demonstration. Julius Caesar is a key figure in the transition from Roman Republic to the imperial period of Roma, and in this transition the form of democracy transfers from by lot and election to totally by election. In […]

Cleopatra and her Position in Society

Cleopatra's actions during her lifetime were influenced by her position as a royal woman ruler as well as her position in the Egyptian society. She accepted her position as "the Other" in ancient society to further embrace the role of the exotic Greco-Roman pharaoh using her beauty and seduction methods as a tool in order to stay in control of the throne. Cleopatra and the story of her early life mainly comes from the stories and poems of Greco-Roman scholars, […]

The Role of Julius Caesar in the History

Gaius Julius Caesar was a politically adept and popular military leader of the Roman Republic. (North 23) Best known as Julius Caesar, he critically participated in transforming the Roman republic to what became known as the Roman Empire by expanding its geographic reach and establishing its imperial leadership system . North (25) narrates that Caesar led Army troops across the river Rubicon and through successful battles. At the same time Pompey, a former Roman Kingdom military and political leader was […]

William Shakespeare about the Overthrow of Julius Caesar

Speeches are made for many reasons, the main is to persuade an audience. The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, written by William Shakespeare, is a play about the overthrow of Julius Caesar by his conspirators. Following the death of Caesar, Mark Antonius, Caesars prodigee, delivers a very persuasive speech in the most indirect way. Antony's tone, his use of credibility, and rhetorical questions during his speech helped build his reliability with the Romans. Antony follows an ironic tone throughout his speech. […]

The Death of Julius Caesar

Recently seeing Julius Caesar, directed by Lance Marsh, many strong moments stood out to me. One particular moment stayed with me, it made me saddened for the character at hand and made me curious as to what he would do with this pivotal moment. Julius Caesar (played by Austin Wyatt) is reigning over this land, and some being to conspire against him. His right hand man, Brutus (played by Blayne Childers), is one main conspirator against Caesar. Caesar is eventually […]

Brutus’s Speech Analysis in Julius Caesar: Persuasion and Argumentation

Introduction: The Power of Persuasive Speeches Persuasive speeches are quite a tool in order to sway the opinion of an uneducated individual. These speeches must have the power to reform a certain community’s opinion on such a topic that the giver of the speech presents. This form of essay writing follows a strict guideline that must be effective yet, at the same time, subtle in design and composition. They are formed using three such parts of any fundamental argument: the […]

Final: Cleopatra

In Act IV of William Shakespeare's tragedy Antony and Cleopatra, Cleopatra remarks, "All strange and terrible events are welcome, but comforts we despise" ("Cleopatra VII"). Herein lies the life of Cleopatra one fraught with tremendous challenges and marred by tragedy. Born in 69 B.C., Cleopatra VII was the daughter of King Ptolemy XII (Jones). At the age of eighteen, Cleopatra assumed the Egyptian throne (Jones). She would be the last Ptolemy and the last pharaoh to ever rule over Egypt. […]

One of Rome’s Greatest Leaders

Julius Caesar was born on the July 12, 100 BC. His Father was too named Julius Caesar. His father was a Praetor who governed the province of Asia. His mother was named Aurelia Cotta was of noble family. Both his father and his mother help a Popular ideology of Rome. This favored democratization of government and also more rights for the lower class. Julius Caesar was a politically adept and popular leader of the Roman Republic who significantly transformed what […]

Why did Brutus Betray Julius: Analyzing the Motives

Introduction Brutus and Mark had unalike motives during their lecture to the town. Brutus made the people accept being helped by the crazy plotters for killing Julius. Mark is a comrade to Julius by telling Brutus and the plotters what they actually are: ruthless assassins who execute Julius from distress and insecurity and never for Rome. Mark wants to stir up people to act out and end the swindlers. Brutus' words are gibberish and pathetic from start to end. Brutus's […]

Examples of Power Corrupting Leaders: from Caesar to Modern Times

Julius Caesar: A Brilliant Strategist with Unchecked Ambitions Julius Caesar defeated many to earn more power. He killed thousands without care and was physically strong and musically inclined. He was a brilliant man who was great at propaganda. His people did not like Caesar because of his overuse of power. Cesar wrote about his many war experiences. These writings were impersonal and purely factual. The areas he covered were exceedingly specific and puzzled historians about why he chose these events […]

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How To Write An Essay On Julius Caesar

Introduction to julius caesar as a historical and literary figure.

When writing an essay on Julius Caesar, it is essential to clarify whether you are focusing on the historical figure of Julius Caesar or the titular character in William Shakespeare’s play. If your essay is about the historical Roman general and statesman, begin by outlining his significance in Roman history, his political and military achievements, and his impact on the course of the Roman Empire. Alternatively, if your essay centers on Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar," introduce the play as a pivotal work of literature that explores themes of power, betrayal, and political intrigue. Your introduction should provide a brief overview of the key aspects of Julius Caesar's life or the main themes of the play, setting the stage for deeper analysis.

Analyzing Julius Caesar’s Influence and Leadership

In the body of your essay, delve into the details of Julius Caesar’s influence and leadership. If focusing on the historical figure, discuss his military campaigns, such as the conquest of Gaul, his role in the Roman Civil War, and his central part in the transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire. Explore his political strategies, reforms, and the reasons behind his assassination. For an essay on Shakespeare's play, analyze Caesar’s character, the perception of his ambition and power by other characters, and the play’s depiction of his assassination. Discuss how Caesar's character and his assassination contribute to the themes and messages of the play.

Examining the Impact and Legacy of Julius Caesar

The next part of your essay should examine the impact and legacy of Julius Caesar. In a historical context, discuss how Caesar’s actions and policies influenced the structure of the Roman Empire and its subsequent rulers. Comment on how his life and death marked a turning point in Roman history. In a literary context, reflect on how Shakespeare’s portrayal of Caesar has influenced perceptions of his character throughout history. Discuss the play's enduring relevance, its impact on literature, and how its themes resonate with contemporary issues of power and morality.

Concluding Thoughts on Julius Caesar

Conclude your essay by summarizing the main points of your analysis and offering a perspective on the significance of Julius Caesar in history or literature. Reflect on the lessons that can be learned from his life and leadership, or the themes and questions raised by Shakespeare’s play. Your conclusion should not only encapsulate your findings but also invite further contemplation on the enduring influence of Julius Caesar, whether as a historical figure who shaped the course of Western history or as a character in one of Shakespeare’s most studied plays.

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Julius Caesar

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A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more. For select classroom titles, we also provide Teaching Guides with discussion and quiz questions to prompt student engagement.

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Discussion Questions

Though the play is titled The Tragedy of Julius Caesar , much of the play’s action follows the emotional conflict experienced by Brutus. To what extent can Brutus be considered the tragic hero of the play?

What role do omens and prophecies play in Julius Caesar ? What is the consequence of ignoring them?

Hubris, or excessive pride, is a tragic flaw exhibited by dramatic heroes dating back to antiquity. Caesar is proud to the point of arrogance and negligence. To what extent is pride responsible for his downfall?

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Julius Caesar

By william shakespeare, julius caesar essay questions.

Is Brutus a villain or a hero?

Discuss the power, or lack thereof, of omens and fate in Julius Caesar.

Discuss the role of women in Julius Caesar, comparing and contrasting Portia and Calpurnia.

Does a single hero or villain exist in Julius Caesar? If so, who? Please explain your reasoning in detail.

Discuss the power of speech and/or the written word in Julius Caesar.

Discuss the power of deception and manipulation in Julius Caesar.

In all the chaos of Julius Caesar, is there a single voice of reason? If so, who? Please explain your answer citing details from the text.

Compare and contrast the private and public sides of Brutus and Caesar.

How is loyalty portrayed in Julius Caesar? Please specifically address Antony, Brutus and Cassius in relation to Caesar.

Idealism often leads to downfall. Support this statement with references to the text and to other historical figures (i.e. Jesus Christ, Joan of Arc, etc.)

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Julius Caesar Questions and Answers

The Question and Answer section for Julius Caesar is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.

Julius Caesar Act 2

Brutus decides to join the conspiracy to murder Caesar. Brutus thinks Caesar will become too powerful if he is crowned and Rome will suffer for it.

Thematic analysis of Julius Caesar

This really depends on what specific theme you are referring to. Please check out the themes page below to explore different themes.


17. Who had his birthday in the play? a. Cassius c. Caesar b. Antony d. Brutus

Study Guide for Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar study guide contains a biography of William Shakespeare, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.

  • About Julius Caesar
  • Julius Caesar Summary
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  • Character List

Essays for Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar literature essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Julius Caesar.

  • The Gender Transformation of Caesar
  • Classification of the Main Characters of William Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Julius Caesar
  • Shakespeare's Presentation of the Character of Mark Antony in 'Julius Caesar'
  • Julius Caesar, Act II, Scene 1: A lesson is dramatic effectiveness
  • Self-Deluded Characters in Julius Caesar

Lesson Plan for Julius Caesar

  • About the Author
  • Study Objectives
  • Common Core Standards
  • Introduction to Julius Caesar
  • Relationship to Other Books
  • Bringing in Technology
  • Notes to the Teacher
  • Related Links
  • Julius Caesar Bibliography

E-Text of Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar E-Text contains the full text of Julius Caesar

  • List of Characters

Wikipedia Entries for Julius Caesar

  • Introduction
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essays about julius caesar

95 Julius Caesar Essay Topic Ideas & Examples

🏆 best julius caesar topic ideas & essay examples, 📌 simple & easy julius caesar essay titles, 👍 good essay topics on julius caesar, ❓ julius caesar essay questions.

  • William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” According to Wyke, the play explores the dramatic structure of Julius Caesar’s ambition to take to the throne of the Roman Empire.
  • The Battle of Words: Brutus vs. Antony in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar However, the speech styles employed by these two characters are not similar but differ from each other in that the style employed by Brutus is one of oration, stoic and is simple and direct to […]
  • Julius Caesar an Iconic Roman This was highly unexpected, as Caesar, a declared dictator, had the support of all the people of Rome, and his death resulted in administrative imbalances.
  • Political Impacts of Julius Caesar This enables Lepidus to see the leadership potential in Caesar and makes his wish to work with him in the government.
  • Julius Caesar’ Desire for Power Unfortunately with the death of Crassus by 53 BC and Caesar’s subsequent rise to power this as a result eclipsed the political standing of Pompey resulting in a distinct shift in the balance of power […]
  • Why Julius Caesar Was Assassinated There is clear indication that Caesar wanted to be called a king and this was the biggest mistake that he made.
  • Ancient and Modern Dictators: Caesar and Mugabe First of all, it is vital to identify the role of Julius Caesar and his contributions to the humanity and to the society of Romans, in particular.
  • Roman History: Why Julius Caesar Was Assassinated Julius Caesar was both a politician and a strong leader for the Romans, who were responsible for the changes in the history of the Greco-Roman. Caesar’s behavior in the temple was observed to be a […]
  • Shakespeare Authorship Question: Thorough Analysis of Style, Context, and Violence in the Plays Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night It should be stated that even though most of the scholars point to the fact that Shakespeare was not the author of the plays, I would like to contradict this opinion and prove that Shakespeare’s […]
  • Description of Augustus Caesar Marble Portrait I have my goal to examine the way the portrait reveals the features communicating a message of the ruler’s glory and divine nature.
  • Persuasion, Manipulation, Survival, Success at Work in Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” Since the beginning of the play edited by Roma Gill, Brutus is presented as a character who is very close to Caesar and is a “great friend” of his.
  • The Play “Julius Caesar” by William Shakespeare Meanwhile Caesar’s son, Octavius, the heir to the throne, decides to avenge for his father’s killing which leads to the deaths of the chief conspirators, Cassius and finally Brutus.
  • Julius Caesar’s and Czar Nicholas II’s Leadership He had to overcome numerous difficulties during his life that have led him to the path of becoming a leader. He had to face the first revolution in the history of Russia and has changed […]
  • The Gallic War and Julius Caesar’s Life One notable difference between Caesar’s and Plutarch’s descriptions of the siege of Alesia is how the authors list the numbers of the Gauls.
  • Ancient Rome: Augustus Caesar The main measures that he employed in the endeavor to restore religion include; regulation of private behavior, reconstruction of public monuments and public religion and creating awareness by the use of literature that discussed the […]
  • Act 1 Scene III of “The Tragedy of Julius Caesar” Analysis The third scene is full of phrases and descriptions appealing to the reader. Short phrases deliver messages to the reader about the true essence of Cassius, Casca, and Cicero.
  • Roman History: Caesar Augustus During Augustus’s reign, the Roman Empire conquered Egypt, the land along the southern bank of the Danube, the northern part of the Iberian Peninsula, as well as the territory between the Rhine and the Elbe.
  • Cleopatra’ and Caesar’ Relationship It must be noted though that based off historical accounts the relationship between Cleopatra and Julius Caesar was bound to fail even before it started due to the volatile combination of their personalities and the […]
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‘Brutal and genocidal’: Dissecting Julius Caesar to warn us about Trump and other strongmen

A bbc documentary about the roman dictator shows how his excessive ambition for power ultimately overthrew a republican system. the film also draws parallels between him and current forms of populism.

Andonis Anthony

The BBC documentary Julius Caesar: The Making of a Dictator is centered around the man who liquidated the Roman Republic. Caesar has enjoyed historical prestige ever since the second century AD, when Plutarch put him at the level of Alexander the Great in Parallel Lives , his series of biographies. Centuries later, through Shakespeare and Hollywood, the Roman general and statesman became further universalized. Even in the Astérix comics, in which the Gauls resisted him , he was treated as a respectable figure and a worthy enemy.

This three-episode British miniseries pulls no punches: it shows Julius Caesar as a cunning, calculating, unscrupulous man — a prisoner of excessive ambition who didn’t give up his efforts until he became dictator for life. He is clearly defined as a figure who destroyed five centuries of republican tradition. A system that — if it cannot be called completely democratic — was at least participatory, had a Senate and used elective procedures for its consuls, who had limitations on their power. What followed was something entirely different: five centuries of despotic empire.

In the series, Julius Caesar is referred to as “brutal, ruthless [and] genocidal on a large-scale,” as well as “dishonorable, immoral, anti-religious and [tyrannical].” It’s noted that he massacred more than 400,000 people in his conquests of Gaul, in violation of Roman laws.

The production is a docudrama, a genre that’s experiencing a sudden boom. However, in this case, the historians and politicians who participate in it — including Thomas Holland, Rory Stewart and Shami Chakrabarti — take the lead, while the dramatized scenes are silent, offering an attractive background image for the narrative.

The entire documentary is firmly attached to Caesar’s political career. There aren’t many details about his private life: not even his relationship with Cleopatra is mentioned, which worked so well in the 1963 production. His daughter Julia is only talked about because he married her off to Pompey, and her death during childbirth broke the link between the two men. Nor is Caesar’s legendary aptitude for military strategy analyzed. The focus is more on how he came to power over the course of 16 years, as the lessons from that era are still considered to be valid. All of the secondary characters in the production are either his rivals or political allies, which are very fickle categories. They include the aforementioned Pompey, Crassus, Cato, Cicero, Mark Antony, Cassius and Decimus. And, of course, Brutus, who, while claiming to be a defender of the Republic, found no other way to overthrow tyranny than by killing the tyrant.

Caesar’s dirty tricks are thoroughly detailed, as are his ever-shifting alliances and the violence that he exercised without hesitation, either directly or through gangs of thugs that he sent to intimidate or assassinate his political enemies. He had a capacity to unleash chaos and present himself as the only salvation. The film also explains Caesar’s charisma: how he became a hero to his people thanks to his military triumphs, and how he convinced the masses that he was with them and against the elites. He created a motto around the notion of “freedom.” Some of his merits that are recognized include the promotion of infrastructure, improved food distribution and lavish shows, elements of the expression “bread and circuses,” which referred to how Rome’s rulers kept the population complacent.

The central thesis of the BBC documentary is that Julius Caesar was a “populist capable of corrupting an entire state.” This is what links him with the world of today, in which democracies showing signs of decadence are producing leaders with authoritarian traits who violate the spirit and rules of the system. Donald Trump is cited in the film several times, as is Jair Bolsonaro, because both men, in the 21st century, instigated assaults by their followers on the legislative branches of their respective countries, in the same way that the Roman Senate was attacked by Caesar’s faithful before it was converted into a veritable puppet theater. Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi and Russia’s Vladimir Putin are also mentioned in passing.

From Caesar came the term “Caesarism,” which, in political science, defines an authoritarian ideology. Clearly, many Caesars now abound in this hyper-connected world of ours poisoned by tension. A second Trump term would be much more dangerous than the first for the most powerful country on the planet: he no longer needs to deceive anyone, but can go about his business without a mask. He recently noted that, if he wins, there will be no violence, but, if he doesn’t win, “it depends.”

Trump isn’t the only contemporary leader with short-term prospects for victory. There are many people around the world who surrender to the pull of the strongman. The experts who have portrayed Caesar in the BBC documentary warn viewers that they shouldn’t take democracy for granted, nor should they lose sight of other, modern Caesars. Nothing is happening today that couldn’t have happened in the ancient world.

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