Conflicting Perspectives Essay Julius Caesar

Suetonius (Divus Julius 76) recounts Caesar’s pollution of the Senate through the admission of ‘some men who had made free of the city, and even natives of Gaul, who were semi-barbarians’ [1].

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This was a key moment in the history of Rome that began the transference from the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire.

It is essential, therefore, to understand what factors led to Caesar’s assassination.

If he returned to Rome without being consul the imperium would have lapsed allowing a prosecution.

Syme (19) believes that had Caesar returned to Rome he would have faced immediate prosecution, and Taylor (190) notes that Cato had openly made threats of legal action.

Caesar’s compassion and leniency is well accounted for in The Civil War, ‘they…begged for their lives.

He reassured them, told them to get up, and spoke briefly to them about his own leniency…He spared them all’ (Caesar The Civil War 3.98 – translation by Gardener 1967).

The name Julius Caesar summons imagery of an assassination that was so momentous that it has been immortalised by William Shakespeare.

However, Caesar was more than the victim of a conspiratorial group; he was a politician, military commander and dictator.

Canfora’s (2007) assessment is an accurate analysis of the evidence with Syme (1939) and Taylor (1949) agreeing that this prompted Caesar’s invasion of Italy.

It would be inappropriate to base an assessment of Caesar’s character solely on the representation in The Civil War.


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