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100 - 44 BC

Rome is thought to have been founded in 753 BC when seven settlements built on low hills on the bank of the River Tiber in central Italy were united.

The last king of Rome, Tarquinius Superbus, was overthrown in 509 BC with Rome then becoming a republic. At that time, the republic covered about 400 square miles with a population of around 150,000.

Through a series of wars, Rome had taken control of all Italy by 275 BC. Between 264 and 201 BC, Rome was involved in the Punic wars against the Carthage people who controlled the Mediterranean Sea.

In the time of the Roman republic, the aim of ambitious Romans was to become Praetor. That post would allow them to lead an army to capture new territory and wealth for Rome, also fame for themselves.

Caesar’s father made praetor but died while on a military campaign at Pisa 85 BC. In 82 BC, the commander Sulla was victorious in a Roman Civil War, declaring himself Dictator of Rome.

With Caesar having married the daughter of a commander defeated by Sulla in the Civil War, he joined Roman expeditions into Asia in 80 BC to avoid Sulla.

Julius Caesar image

Julius Caesar

Caesar was awarded the Civic Crown after the storming of Mytilene on the Island of Lesbos in the Aegean Sea. After Sulla’s death in 78 BC, Caesar returned to Rome so he could pursue a career as a political lawyer.

Caesar traveled to Rhodes in 75 BC in order to study so he could enhance his political career. On his way, he was captured by pirates and held for 40 days until a ransom had been paid. Caesar had joked with his captures that he would have them crucified. On his release, Caesar persuaded local officials to lend him some forces. The capture of the pirates soon after, resulted in their crucifixion.

In 73 BC, in the year of the Sparticus uprising, Caesar returned to Rome so he could work his way up in politics. By 62 BC, he had achieved Praetor. Caesar set out the following year leading an army into Spain. They defeated several tribes along Spain’s Atlantic coast before returning to Rome with Caesar’s fame and wealth assured.

Caesar was elected Consul for the year 59 BC. At the end of his Consulship, he was awarded the government of the area of Northern Italy and Southern France. At that time, Rome was in control of Italy, Spain and most of the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. They were only trading with the lands north of Italy.

Between 58 and 49 BC, Caesar conquered many hostile tribes taking control of France, Southern Holland, Belgium, Germany west of the Rhine, most of Switzerland and England. Taking control of these territories made Caesar the most successful and famous of all the Romans.

While Caesar had been capturing parts of Europe, his rival Pompey, who had taken control of most of the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, saw his chance to take control of Rome.

Caesar’s return to Rome led to a civil war. As followers of Caesar soon triumphed in the battles that followed, Pompey fled to Egypt. By the time Caesar arrived in Egypt, he found the young Egyptian King Ptolemy XIII had executed Pompey.

Ptolemy and his sister Cleopatra were at war with each other over them sharing control of Egypt. Caesar helped Cleopatra defeat her brother then appointed her sole ruler of Egypt. Soon after Caesar returned to Rome to deal with uprisings, Cleopatra gave birth to his son, naming the child Ptolemy Caesarion.

Caesar's reward for defeating Pompey was to be appointed Dictator 46 BC with sole control of Rome for ten years. Two years later, he was appointed Dictator for life.

As that appointment did not bear well with many in the Senate, a plot was hatched to assassinate Caesar at the Senate Building.

On March 15th 44 BC, at the Roman Forum, Caesar was surrounded by fellow politicians who ended his life with 23 dagger thrusts.

In 30 BC, Caesar’s adopted son Octavian became the first Emperor of Rome, this being the beginning of the Roman Empire.

The Roman Forum in Rome image

The Roman Forum in Rome

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