Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar is probably one of the most famous men to have ever lived. He was an amazing politician, a gifted leader and a skilled general. He was born to a wealthy family who claimed to be descended from the goddess Venus and a legendary hero named Aeneas, supposedly the ancestor of Romulus, the legendary founder of Rome. Caesar's father was a politician and his uncle was a consul - one of the two men who ruled Rome. Julius's father must have been given insight to the future (either that or he was good at making lucky guesses) as he often said Caesar would do great things. At a young age, Caesar was sent to a school where he learned reading, writing, math, and public speaking. And did he ever become good at that last one! If he gave a speech, lots of people came to listen. But he thought he needed more lessons in public speaking and decided to go to the most famous teacher around. Of course, there had to be a catch. The teacher lived in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. He paid to go there on a ship. Of course, something happened. The ship was captured by pirates, who held him for ransom. Caesar treated them like they were the prisoners, though. Finally, the government sent money for his ransom, and the pirates released him.

But that wasn't enough for Caesar. He decided to capture the pirates. He managed to borrow some soldiers and ships back in Rome and sailed after the pirates. He caught them and had them executed. This made people notice him more. His name was on everyone's lips. And he was in politics now. People were getting ready to vote for him!

Unfortunately, Caesar wanted to be a consul. And the positions was already filled. So Caesar was sent to govern the Romans who lived in Spain. Caesar was the type who wanted to be first in everything, but he settled for Spain. One day, on the way to Spain, he traveled through a rather disgusting village. One of Caesar's friends commented on it.
Caesar turned around and said, " I would rather be the most important man in this village than the second most important man in Rome."

One day, while in the library, Caesar began reading about the life of Alexander the Great. His friends were talking with him when they noticed he was no longer reading. He suddenly burst into tears. When asked why he was crying, he said it was because Alexander the Great had been king of several countries by the time he was Caesar's age, and Caesar hadn't accomplished anything great yet. (The pirate stunt was pretty good in my opinion. So was governing the Romans in Spain, with whom he was very popular.)

Finally, Caesar returned to Rome. He convinced the two consuls in Rome that he should be a consul as well. So the group of three leaders was known as the triumvirate. But the Senate didn't like this at all. What if he became king? Rome had once had kings. They had been tyrants. What would happen to Rome?

Caesar fought many battles away from Rome. Of course, he never told anyone about his losses, but there couldn't have been that many. His victories made him a hero in Rome - except to the senate. The senate knew the people would want Caesar to be king, but they didn't want that at all! They convinced another consul to turn against Caesar. It was difficult. After all, the consul, Pompey, had married Caesar's daughter, Julia. But Pompey gave in, and called Caesar a traitor. But Caesar returned. He halted at the Rubicon River. He crossed it, though, after considering what could happen.

In Rome, Pompey was trying to gather an army. Unfortunately, he had no success in doing so, and fled before Caesar reached Rome. Pompey went to Egypt to try to find help. But Egypt had two Pharaohs, Queen Cleopatra and her little brother, who didn't get along very well.(Both of them wanted to rule Egypt alone.) And when these two heard that Caesar was coming, they thought he was going to attack. They decided to play nice. What they did, though, was actually not nice. They caught Pompey and cut off his head, which went to Caesar. Caesar didn't really like that. He'd only wanted to imprison Pompey. But Queen Cleopatra invited him to visit. She showed him the treasures of Egypt. That and Cleopatra's beauty sort of convinced him to like her. (They had a son, you know!) Cleopatra's brother was killed and Cleopatra became the sole ruler of Egypt. Caesar was in love with her and stayed with her for a while.

When back in Rome, Caesar was made dictator for life. But he wanted to be called king so other countries would respect him more. One of Caesar's friends, a well-known fellow, name of Brutus, talked the other senate members into killing him. Some friend. On the day before they killed him, his horses wouldn't eat. He went to the temple to find out why. A fortune-teller whispered in his ear to beware the fifteenth of March. His wife had a dream that she was holding her dead husband, and he had been stabbed to death. (Actually, March 15 was yesterday as of this writing.) But Caesar went to the Senate anyway. When he came into the building, he sat down in his special chair. Brutus and two other senators attacked him and stabbed him to death. It is said they were so eager to stab him they hurt themselves trying to get to him. When he looked up, he saw his friend leaning over him. He spoke his somewhat famous final last words.
" Et tu, Brute?"
" You too, Brutus?"
One of the most amazing men in history had just been stabbed to death by one of his friends.

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