Julius Caesar

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Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar was born to patrician parents but not into a position of wealth and power. When Julius was young he spent a few years making a name for himself in the military and married a woman named Cornelia, who was the daughter of an important man in the Popular group. A few years into their marriage, Cornelia gave birth to a daughter, Julia.

Julius continued to grow as a soldier, distinguishing himself in battle against Rome's many enemies and saving the lives of fellow soldiers in the process.

He was elected military tribune in 72 B.C. and was elected quaestor in 68 B.C. gaining a seat in the senate.

Julius had continued success both militarily and politically. He rose to pontifex maximus (chief priest and then praetor.

Due to his great military success and his ability to manipulate situations to benefit himself he became consul in 60 B.C.

The consulship was the top job in government at the time, but Caesar wasn't the only consul. In fact, Rome already had two consuls, Crassus and Pompey.

Pompey, a great general who had great successes in the field, won a series of great victories in Asia. Upon his return to Rome in 62 he asked the Senate to approve of the territory arrangements that he had made as a result of his victories on the battlefields. Crassus, who was quite jealous of Pompey's war successes, persuaded the Senate not to approve of Pompey's plans. 

Caesar, sensing an opportunity, persuaded the two consuls to work together and promised to support both of them. His price: a consulship of his own. Crassus and Pompey agreed, and 60 B.C. saw the formation of the First Triumvirate.

Within a year, Caesar was true to his word: Pompey's proposals were approved, so were Crassus's and Caesar himself was granted a five-year term as proconsul of Gaul after his tour of duty as a consul had finished.

Marcus Licinius Crassus

Marcus Licinius Crassus is considered to be the wealthiest man in Roman history. He gained power through a series of schemes that led to his own destruction.

The son of a well-known senator who also served as consul and censor, Crassus began his public life by marrying the wife of his recently dead older brother and allying himself with Sulla, who later ruled Rome as dictator. This alliance proved fruitful for Crassus's ambitions of wealth.

Crassus had political and military ambitions and used his wealth to pursue them. He befriended the young, brilliant general Julius Caesar, in part by offering to help finance Caesar's frequent military campaigns. Meanwhile, Crassus was moving up the political ladder. He held the rank of praetor when the Spartacus-led slave revolt broke out, in 73 B.C. After the brilliant slave leader led his men through a series of victories against better-equipped Roman legions, Crassus offered up his own wealth to finance an army to fight Spartacus. This army ultimately defeated Spartacus putting down the rebellion.

Crassus was not the only Roman gaining fame and fortune, however. The aforementioned Caesar was proving his worth in matters military and legal.

The greatest general, in terms of field victories, was Pompey, who had secured the ongoing hostility between himself and Crassus by claiming credit for ending the slave revolt by capturing a few thousand slaves in a mop-up operation after Crassus had defeated Spartacus.

Despite this, Crassus and Pompey were named consuls in 70 B.C. Already jealous of each other, they grew even more so as they shared power. Consulship was only for a year, and the two served in other posts after that. For the next few years, Crassus and Caesar solidified their alliance by doing political and monetary favors for each other.

Crassus and Pompey were still the two most powerful figures in Rome and still did not trust each other. Caesar, sensing an opportunity, convinced them both to take control of the government together, along with him, in what came to be known as the First Triumvirate, in 60 B.C.

As part of the arrangement, Crassus took control of Syria, a wealthy province that, he hoped, would give him even more wealth and an opportunity for more military triumphs. He hoped to lead forces through Syria to attack the Parthians, at the time harassing Rome's eastern flank.


Marcus Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, (A.K.A.) Pompey the Great, was one of the greatest military generals in Roman history. He could boast of triumphs throughout the Roman world, on the field of battle and in the halls of government. He rose to great heights in government, but ultimately met defeat and betrayal.

Born into a wealthy Italian family, Pompey showed expertise in warfare by throwing in his lot with Sulla in his struggle with Gaius Marius. Pompey conquered Sicily in 82 B.C., the year that Sulla was declared dictator, then moved on and solidified Roman influence in Africa. Sulla rewarded Pompey for his service by giving him the title Magnus ("the Great"). 

A string of victories followed. Pompey ended the revolt of Sertorius in Spain and returned to Rome a popular conqueror. In 70 B.C., he was named consul, along with Marcus Licinius Crassus. Pompey's election as consul was significant because he had no previous political experience.

Crassus and Pompey were two of the most powerful men in Rome at the time, yet they were not allies. They shared a mistrust of each other that only grew in the year that they served as consuls. Each of the two men was suspicious of the other's ambitions.

In 67 B.C., Pompey was sent to deal with several groups of pirates that had been stealing up and down the Mediterranean, harassing Roman grain shipments, among other things. In less than a year, Pompey had defeated all of the pirates and secured Roman supply lines west and east. 

The following year, the Senate called on Pompey again to lead Roman forces against foreign leaders. Pompey continued on eastward and claimed Syria, Judea, and Jerusalem for Rome.

Back in Rome, Crassus was solidifying his hold on Roman power and entering into an alliance of necessity with Julius Caesar, who by then had secured his position as one of the most promising military and legal minds in Rome. With Pompey returned again the conquering hero to Rome in 61, trouble was brewing again. Caesar, however, convinced Crassus and Pompey in 60 to join him in a new form of a government, a three-man structure that was termed the First Triumvirate. In effect, they were the three most powerful men in Rome and took steps to ensure that they did the ruling. To cement the alliance, Caesar approved of Pompey's marrying Caesar's daughter, Julia.

The arrangement worked to the benefit of all three, inside the halls of the Roman government and elsewhere in the Republic. They divided Rome's provinces between them, with Pompey taking Spain, Crassus ruling Syria, and Caesar presiding over Gaul and Illyrica.


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