Julius Caesar remains one of the most famous Romans of all time. From military victory in the Gallic Wars to his romance with Cleopatra, dictatorship to brutal assassination, he has inspired countless politicians, generals and playwrights But how well do you know Caesar’s achievements?
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This documentary tells the story of Julius Caesar's assassination on the 'Ides of March' in 44 BC. Featuring Dr Emma Southon and Professor Marco Conti.Watch Now
The Three Damned Wives of Julius Caesar
When addressing Julius Caesar’s biography, the authors always focus on his political and military sides, often ignoring (perhaps due to a lack of sources) that he was also a great conqueror of hearts.
Beyond his multiple extramarital affairs, Julius Caesar had three spouses throughout his life: Cornelia, Pompeii, and Calpurnia. This piece will go over what little we know about Julius Caesar’s wives’ lives and delve into the charismatic and skilled Roman leader’s more personal facets.
Julius Caesar by Unknown
Where did Caesar grow up?
Julius Caesar was born in Subura, Rome in the year 100 BC. He was born to an aristocratic family that could trace their bloodlines back to the founding of Rome. His parents were well-off, but they weren't rich by Roman standards. His full name was Gaius Julius Caesar.
Did Caesar go to school?
At around the age of six, Gaius began his education. He was taught by a private tutor named Marcus Antonius Gnipho. He learned how to read and write. He also learned about Roman law and how to speak in public. These were important skills he would need as a leader of Rome.
Caesar's father died when he was sixteen years old. He became the head of the family and was responsible for his mother Aurelia and his sister Julia. At the age of seventeen he married Cornelia, the daughter of a powerful politician in Rome.
Young Caesar soon found himself in the middle of a power struggle between two factions in the government. The current dictator of Rome, Sulla, was enemies with both Caesar's uncle Marius and Caesar's father in-law Cinna. Caesar joined the army and left Rome in order to avoid Sulla and his allies.
When Sulla died, Caesar returned to Rome. He was now a military hero from his years in the army. He quickly rose up the ranks in the Roman government. He made allies with powerful men such as the general Pompey the Great and the wealthy Crassus. Caesar was an excellent speaker and the people of Rome loved him.
At the age of 40 Julius Caesar was elected to consul. Consul was the highest ranking position in the Roman Republic. The consul was like a president, but there were two consuls and they only served for one year. At the end of his year as consul, Caesar became governor of the province of Gaul.
As governor of Gaul, Caesar was in charge of four Roman legions. He was a very effective governor and general. He conquered all of Gaul. He gained the respect and honor from his army and soon was considered alongside Pompey as the greatest general in the Roman army.
Politics in Rome became increasingly hostile while Caesar was in Gaul. Many of the leaders were jealous of Caesar and his following. Even Pompey became jealous and soon Caesar and Pompey became rivals. Caesar had the support of the people and Pompey had the support of the aristocrats.
Caesar announced that he was going to return to Rome and run for consul again. The Roman Senate replied that he must give up the command of his army first. Caesar refused and the Senate said he was a traitor. Caesar began to march his army to Rome.
Caesar took control of Rome in 49 BC and spent the next 18 months fighting Pompey. He finally defeated Pompey, chasing him all the way to Egypt. When he reached Egypt, the young Pharaoh, Ptolemy XIII, had Pompey killed and presented his head to Caesar as a gift.
In 46 BC Caesar returned to Rome. He was now the most powerful man in the world. The Senate made him dictator for life and he ruled like a king. He made many changes to Rome. He put his own supporters in the Senate. He built new buildings and temples in the city of Rome. He even changed the calendar to the now famous Julian calendar with 365 days and a leap year.
Some people in Rome felt that Caesar was too powerful. They were worried that his rule would put an end to the Roman Republic. They plotted to kill him. The leaders of the plot were Cassius and Brutus. On March 15, 44 BC Caesar entered the Senate. A number of men ran up to him and began to attack him and killed him. He was stabbed 23 times.
Julius Caesar Quiz 1
The Question and Answer section for Julius Caesar is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Caesar is headed to the Senate House with all of the conspirators surrounding him. He sees the soothsayer and tells the man that the ides of March have come. The soothsayer responds with, "Ay, Caesar, but not gone" (3.1.2). However, Caesar is not.
1) The Soothsayer calls out from the crowd to Caesar, telling him to beware the Ides of March. (The “ides” refers to the fifteenth day of March, May, July, and October and the thirteenth day of the other months in the ancient Roman calendar.).
Study Guide for Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar study guide contains a biography of William Shakespeare, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.
Essays for Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar literature essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Julius Caesar.
The Curious Sex Life of Julius Caesar
T oday, Julius Caesar has an image of a stoic leader, founder of the Roman Empire, and a general who conquered barbaric Gauls. However, the less known fact is Caesar had a very lively sex life. So lively that even his Legions would sing songs about it during long marches. In his youth, Caesar was famous for cross-dressing and playing the role of a woman in a relationship with other men.
Known to Romans more as penetrated than penetrator, sexually speaking Caesar was both. As a young man, he spent a lot of time the court of King Nicomedes IV in Bithynia, modern-day Turkey, and this fact alone fueled rumors which followed Caesar for his entire life.
Even his most loyal legionaries were chanting:
Caesar might have conquered the Gauls but Nicomedes conquered him.
In Roman times sexual relationships between two men were acceptable, however, being in a submissive role in such a relationship was damaging to the reputation of the masculine leader of legions.
Indeed, this was the only “stain” on Caesar's image of the tireless seducer. It was said no woman, no wife, and no daughter was safe before Caesar.
Caesar was notoriously famous for seducing wives of his allies and using sex with aristocratic women to improve his political status. He also spent an enormous amount of money, often public money, on the number of prostitutes.
Caesar was given the nickname “bad adulterer”.
During one of Caesar’s triumphs, his soldiers were singing:
Men of Rome, watch out for your wives,We’re bringing the bald adulterer home.In Gaul he f*cked his way through a fortune. Which he borrowed here in Rome.
Julius Caesar was a tall man (most Romans were not) and had a fashion sense. In his younger years, he was considered a handsome man. It is said he had a good sense of humor (even at his own expense). All that contributed him to being a ladies’ man.
He married three times, yet this hasn’t stopped Caesar from taking the number of mistresses. His wives were:
- Cornelia. They married due to political reasons. She gave birth to Julia, Caesar’s only legitimate child. She died in 69 BC.
- Pompeia. Caesar divorced her after a scandal in which Publius Clodius Pulcher, dressed as a woman, was found at the ceremony to the Bona Dea at which no men were permitted. Caesar famously said that his wife “must be above suspicion.”
- Calpurnia. Calpurnia stayed devoted to him despite Caesar’s numerous mistresses, which included Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt. She told him about her dream of his assassination.
In Roman times the definition of marriage wasn’t to stay loyal to your spouse. It was allowed to have sex with other women and men as long as it wasn’t humiliating to Roman society and carried out in a discreet manner.
Caesar’s most famous mistress was indeed the Queen of Egypt — Cleopatra. Legend of Cleopatra being wrapped in huge carpet and smuggled to Caesar past her brother’s guards is well-known.
Cleopatra and Caesar had a son together- Caesarian, meaning “Little Caesar”. It is widely believed affair between Cleopatra and Caesar was a one-night stand.
Cleopatra and Caesar were never married since it was against Roman law.
On one occasion when Caesar was speaking in the Senate, a messenger slipped him a note. His sworn enemy, senator Cato the Younger, interrupted the speech, demanding Caesar to read the letter aloud.
Cato believed the letter would contain evidence of Caesar’s involvement in the notorious Second Catilinarian conspiracy (exposed by Cicero in 63 BC).
Caesar tried several times to let him off the hook but to no avail. In the end, he had to read aloud the content of the note in front of the whole senate.
It was a love note from Servilia, his mistress, and half-sister of Cato. She was proclaiming her fervent lust for Caesar in very explicit terms. Cato was made a fool in front of the entire Senate.
Servilia’s son Marcus Brutus was Caesar’s favorite. Despite rumors, Brutus wasn’t Caesar’s son since he was born when Caesar was only fifteen years old.
Marcus Brutus was treated very well by Caesar. Even when he sided with Caesar's opponent Pompey, Caesar ordered his men no harm should come to Brutus.
During the assassination of Julius Caesar in the Roman Senate in 44 BC, Caesar was fighting back his attackers, but when he saw Marcus Brutus approaching, he stopped fighting and said: “You too, my child?”.
This is a significant difference to widely adopted “Et Tu Brute?” translating to “And you Brutus?” and might hint Caesar treated Brutus as if he was Caesar’s son.
The Roman society promoted sexuality. Prostitution was legal and public. Houses had “pornographic” paintings. No moral punishment was directed at men who enjoyed sex with other women and men, even if they were of inferior status, as long as their actions weren’t deemed as excesses.
Sex with men was not regarded as demeaning to man’s masculinity if the man took the active and not the receptive role.
Julius Caesar Study Guide
The only authoritative edition of Julius Caesar is the 1623 First Folio, which appears to have used the theater company's official promptbook rather than Shakespeare's manuscript. Some anomalies exist, most notably in Act Four where there is confusion concerning the parts of the minor characters. Also, in writings from 1614 and 1625 Shakespeare's contemporary Ben Jonson makes fun of a line from 3.1 where Caesar says, "Know Caesar doth not wrong but with just cause." The First Folio omits the final four words, yet the fact that Jonson was writing in 1625 appears to indicate that the words may have been used in productions of the play even after the publication of the First Folio. The Oxford edition chose to add the four words back into the play, arguing that the apparent contradiction helps to more fully portray Caesar's characteristic god-like aspirations.
Julius Caesar opens in 44 B.C., at a time when Rome ruled territories stretching from as far north as Britain to as far east as Persia. However, Rome's military success had come at a serious cost to the political situation in the home city, which was governed by a senate. Rome's senators became increasingly factionalized causing internal disarray, which allowed the more successful military generals gain power. Furthermore, the state suffered from class divisions, and the plebeians had managed to win the right to elect "tribunes," or representatives, giving them some political power. However, women and most of the plebeian men remained excluded from this franchise. Thus, although the republic showed some signs of democracy, the majority did not participate in the general politics.
Several men attempted to take over the government during this tumultuous period, most failing in the endeavor. Julius Caesar was a Roman general who had made a name for himself through his successful campaigning of northwest Europe. His advantage lay not only in winning battles, but also in his popularity among the poorer classes in Rome. He possessed innate talent, charisma, ambition, and luck, which, when combined, allowed his political power to increase. Supporters of the traditional form of government realized that men like Caesar posed a serious threat to the republic, and when legal and military attempts failed to stop him, conspirators led by Caius Cassius and Marcus Brutus assassinated him.
The death of Caesar undermined the very political institution it was meant to defend. Rome was soon split by civil war, and the armies of the conspirators were defeated by Caesar's friend Mark Antony and his heir, Octavius. The culmination of these events was the defeat of the senate and the installment of Octavius as emperor Augustus.
Contemporaries of Caesar quickly grasped the importance of these events, documenting them well. Throughout the centuries since, the events of Caeser's time have been interpreted and discussed at length, and continue to be alluded to even in present day politics. Political commentators have interpreted the actions of the main figures differently. For example, Michelangelo viewed Brutus as a defender of human liberty, while Dante placed him (and Cassius) into the deepest circle of hell in his Inferno. For Shakespeare, this historical drama presented numerous possibilities for analyzing and exploring conflicting perspectives of these events, and thus was a logical choice for one of his plays.
The story of Caesar's death and the resulting political upheaval was especially salient in Shakespeare's time. The play is thought to have been written in 1599, when Queen Elizabeth was sixty-six years old. Europe and England were ruled by monarchs struggling to consolidate their power. In England, the monarchy ran into opposition from the established aristocracy and elected representatives in the House of Commons. Since Elizabeth had no direct heirs, many feared England might decay into civil chaos similar to that of the fifteenth century. Fear of censorship prevailed in matters relating to political discourse, and so for Shakespeare, the story of Julius Caesar provided a safe way to comment on many of the important questions of the time.
Shakespeare's main source in writing the play was Thomas North's English translation of Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans. Plutarch wrote in the first century A.D. and recorded his biographies as an historian. His description of the Roman Republic stated that it was ruled by at least one or more powerful men, yet rarely more than a few men. Shakespeare adopts this concept of Rome for Julius Caesar, focusing on the actions and influences of a few remarkable individuals rather than dealing with larger social movements. However, this approach does not imply a limited awareness of Rome's social problems, as the play's opening scenes clearly address Rome's social divisions.
Shakespeare condenses the action in Julius Caesar as in many of his historical dramas, breaking slightly from historical accuracy. For example, Shakespeare places Caesar's triumph over Pompey's sons with the Lupercalia in February, whereas Plutarch indicates the victory took place in October. With this time change, the assassination on the Ides of March appears to be in response to Caesar's growing influence and arrogance. Furthermore, in Shakespeare's version, Brutus and Cassius flee from Rome immediately after Antony's speech to the Roman mob, but Plutarch describes them withdrawing from the city over a year after Caesar's funeral. These differences cause Roman leaders' personal flaws and strengths to appear far more important in shaping the action of the plot.
Shakespeare's Julius Caesar is composed of several characters, none of whom dominate the plot even the titular hero is merely one of the several personalities in the play. Indeed, Shakespeare creates only a limited depth to Caesar's characterization, mainly relying on the negative reports from those most hostile to him. However, when onstage, Caesar does not live up the reputation his enemies claim for him, thereby undermining his ability to dominate the plot at any point.
Brutus is a much fuller character. As the friend and murderer of Caesar, he provides tremendous insight into his personality through soliloquies in which he discusses his motives and the consequences of his actions. Brutus also is portrayed in many different roles, including husband, military leader and assassin. These different roles allow us to see the internal strife inherent in Brutus' character he is a man who must justify his extralegal murder while simultaneously remaining a faithful and good husband.
In Julius Caesar, Shakespeare utilizes one of his great techniques, often called "gradual release", slowly providing pertinent plot information as the play progresses, forcing the audience to continually revise its interpretation of the action. A good example of this is when Antony climaxes his famous eulogy by reading Caesar's will and speaking of the generosity Caesar has shown to the common people, mentioning that Caesar has left them all some money. However, only two scenes later we see him trying to minimize the cost of this generosity by reducing the amount of money that needs to be given out. The combination of the two scenes forces the audience to reevaluate everything we know about Antony, and denies us the ability to fix firm motives on any of the play's characters.
Shakespeare never intended the play to be historically accurate. In fact, he clearly expected the actors to appear in Elizabethan dress. Furthermore, he gives Rome the medieval invention of the mechanical clock, a notorious anachronism. However, Shakespeare's Romans share a distinct cultural heritage and society, including Roman society's implicit ideals and assumptions. When Antony calls Brutus, "the noblest of the Romans," he is referring to the specific "Roman" virtue, associated with the Republican government Brutus dies defending. The protagonists in the plot are never able to overcome the pressure of the Roman values, and thus are not completely free to invent themselves, relying instead on the cultural values provided.
The wealthy and well-appointed Cossutia had been betrothed to Caesar since they were both children—but this didn’t stop him from dealing her a bitter betrayal. You see, Cossutia’s family was wealthy, but they weren’t aristocrats. In order to pursue his ambitions, Caesar unceremoniously dumped his long-time girlfriend to marry the rich and noble Cornelia instead.
Mar 15, 44 BCE: Julius Caesar Assassinated
On March 15, 44 B.C.E., Julius Caesar, dictator of Rome, was stabbed to death by dozens of senators.
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Death of Caesar
Julius Caesar was assassinated by about 40 Roman senators on the "ides of March" (March 15) 44 BCE. Caesar's death resulted in a long series of civil wars that ended in the death of the Roman Republic and the birth of the Roman Empire.
Painting by Jean-Leon Gerome, courtesy the Walters Art Museum
On March 15, 44 B.C.E., Julius Caesar was stabbed to death in Rome, Italy. Caesar was the dictator of the Roman Republic, and his assassins were Roman senators, fellow politicians who helped shape Roman policy and government.
Julius Caesar was immensely popular with the people of Rome. He was a successful military leader who expanded the republic to include parts of what are now Spain, France, Germany, Switzerland, and Belgium. Caesar was also a popular author who wrote about his travels, theories, and political views.
Many members of the Senate, a group of appointed (not elected) political leaders, resented Caesar&rsquos popularity and arrogance. After Caesar attained the status of dictator for life in 44 B.C.E., these officials decided to strike the ultimate blow against his power. A group of as many as 60 conspirators decided to assassinate Caesar at the meeting of the Senate on March 15, the ides of March. Collectively, the group stabbed Caesar a reported 23 times, killing the Roman leader.
The death of Julius Caesar ultimately had the opposite impact of what his assassins hoped. Much of the Roman public hated the senators for the assassination, and a series of civil wars ensued. In the end, Caesar&rsquos grandnephew and adoptive son Octavian emerged as Rome&rsquos leader. He renamed himself Augustus Caesar. The reign of Augustus marked the end of the Roman Republic and the start of the Roman Empire.
12. He tries expressing that it is the right thing to do and the killing is the only way.
13. He thinks the conspirators are acting in secret.
14. It is ironic because he believes killing Caesar is justice but killing Antony is just murder.
15. Portia cares deeply about her husband, and shows her concern for her husband.
16. He convince brutus what he is doing is acceptable.
17. Calpurnia’s talk with caesar made him change his mind about going for the moment.
18. How they are all in the car together.
19. Artemidorus scene is to warn Caesar.
20. Shows how Portia might have a clue about what is going on and the servant might do something to interfere.
Julius Caesar, one of Ancient Rome’s most famous individuals, was born in 100 BC – or near to that year. Julius Caesar joined the Roman Army in 81 BC and was the first Roman army commander to invade England which he did in 55 BC and again in 54 BC. Caesar was born into a wealthy family and he was a well educated child who was good at sport.
After serving in the Roman Army, Caesar developed an interest in politics. He became a driven man who wanted to get to the highest positions in Roman politics. In 65 BC, Caesar was appointed an ‘adele’ and put in charge of public entertainment in Rome. This was a very important position as the citizens of Rome expected quality entertainment. It was believed by those who ran Rome that the people could be kept happy and content if they had access to varied and enjoyable entertainment. Caesar took to the post with zeal. He borrowed large sums of money to ensure that the entertainment he provided was the best money could buy. He put on games and festivals for the people. As a result, he became very popular with the poor of Rome – a considerable part of the city’s population. He also courted the friendship of Rome’s richest man, Crassus.
In 59 BC, Caesar was appointed a consul and in 58 BC he went to Gaul (France) where he served as governor. He was successful in this position and conquered even more land for the Roman Empire. Caesar was a brilliant general and commanded an army of over 50,000 loyal men. His success at a military level all but guaranteed the loyalty of his soldiers. But he was seen by some as a cruel man solely driven by expanding his own personal power. As a result, he made enemies of important politicians in Rome itself. Some senior army generals, such as Pompey, were also very concerned about Caesar’s intentions.
In 49 BC the Senate ordered Caesar to hand over his army to their control. He refused. Instead Caesar advanced on Italy but paused at the line that divided France (Gaul) and Italy – the River Rubicon. Roman law said that a governor was not allowed to leave his province. Caesar ignored this law, crossed the Rubicon and advanced to confront his enemies in Rome. The Senate considered this to be a treasonable offence but there was little they could do. Caesar had a very powerful and experienced army and his opponents were fragmented. Pompey was killed in Egypt in 48 BC. For the next three years he picked off his enemies one by one whether they were in North Africa, the Middle East or Europe.
Caesar returned to Rome in 45 BC as a dictator. However, he allowed the Senate to continue working – except that he replaced disloyal senators with his own appointments of loyal men. Caesar should have used his position to make powerless those he had removed from the Senate – but he did not. Caesar did not take away their wealth and these men plotted against him.
In 44 BC, Caesar was murdered by those politicians who feared that he was too obsessed with his own importance. His murder took place at the Senate House in Rome. After his murder, Rome was divided as to whether it was a good thing or not.