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SparkNotes: Julius Caesar: Context

Gaius Julius Caesar was born on July 12, 100 B.C.E

Caesarion was born in Egypt on June 23, 47 BC
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Early life
Caesar was born in Rome to a well-known patrician family (gens Julia) which supposedly traced its ancestry to Julus, the son of the Trojan prince Aeneas, who according to myth was the son of Venus.

His mother Cleopatra insisted that he was the son of Julius Caesar

Adopted by Caesar, Augustus (c.62 BC – 14 AD / Reigned 31 BC – 14 AD) had to fight for his throne
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Calphurnia: The wife of Caesar, she begs her husband not to go to the Senate on "the ides of March" (March 15) when she cries out "'Help, ho! They murder Caesar!'" three times in her sleep, the day before Caesar's death. This and strange occurrences such as a lioness whelping in the streets of Rome,"Fierce fiery warriors" fighting in the clouds (Act II, Scene II, Lines 12-24) and graves yawning and yielding up their dead, convince Calphurnia that her husband Julius Caesar, must stay home on the "ides of March" (the fifteenth of March). Unfortunately just as Calphurnia convinces Caesar to stay home and avoid the death that awaits him, Decius Brutus (not to be confused with Brutus), arrives at Caesar's home convincing him that these images mean that Rome will be revived by Caesar's presence at the Senate the following day. Caesar ignores his wife's pleas and meets his bloody destiny at the hands of Brutus and company the very next day.


Interactive Map of the Roman Empire and Celtic Lands

Lecture 12: Augustus Caesar and the Pax Romana
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Upon his return, Caesar made himself dictator and absolute ruler of Rome and its territories. During his rule, he enacted several reforms. Caesar founded many colonies in newly conquered territories and provided land and opportunity for poor Romans who chose to migrate there. He reduced the number of slaves and opened citizenship up to people living in the provinces. Finally, he created a new calendar named the Julian calendar. This very calendar, with a few minor adjustments, is the same one used around the world today.

James Boswell called him ‘the greatest man of any age’
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Long before Julius Caesar became dictator (from 47-44 B.C.E.) and was subsequently murdered, the Roman Republic had entered a state of rapid decline. The rich had become wealthier and more powerful as a result of Rome's many military successes.

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Julius Caesar: The victoriousleader of Rome, it is the fear that he may become King and revoke the privileges of men like Cassius that leads to his death at the hands of Cassius, Brutus and their fellow conspirators.

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The literary Caesar
Caesar was considered during his lifetime to be one of the finest orators and authors of prose in Rome; even Cicero spoke highly of Caesar's rhetoric and style; among his most famous works were his funeral oration for his paternal aunt Julia (Marius's widow) and his Anticato, a document written to blacken Cato's reputation and respond to Cicero's Cato memorial.