Julius Caesar's Personality Traits & Characteristics

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  • 0:01 Julius Caesar: Intelligent
  • 1:23 Julius Caesar: Energetic
  • 2:00 Julius Caesar: Cunning…
  • 2:53 Caesar's Downfall
  • 4:12 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christina Boggs

Chrissy has taught secondary English and history and writes online curriculum. She has an M.S.Ed. in Social Studies Education.

The answer to the question, Who was Julius Caesar? seems pretty obvious. He was an accomplished Roman general who seized control of the Republic, but who was he as a person? In this lesson, you will learn about Caesar's personality traits and characteristics.

Julius Caesar: Intelligent

First and foremost, Julius Caesar, the Roman general and statesman who upended the Republic and its laws, was a smarty pants. He was exceptionally bright, well-educated, and well-read. His intelligence is one of the reasons why he was such a successful ruler. Caesar was both an articulate writer and a compelling speaker. When he was addressing the Senate or the public, Romans hung on his every word. His critical mind was immensely beneficial during his military career. He planned and strategized to outmaneuver his opponents.

One of the best examples of Caesar's intelligence comes from the Battle of Alesia. While working to conquer Gaul (which is modern-day France), Caesar pursued his enemy to a small fortified town called Alesia. Instead of exhausting his resources and sacking the city, he created a siege instead. Caesar was well aware his foe would be sending reinforcements so he did two things. First, he had his troops construct a series of walls and ditches around the city called circumvallation. This way, he could monitor the Gauls trapped inside the city. Around the circumvallation, he had his troops build another series of perimeters called contravallation. From the contravallation, he could watch for reinforcements and defend the position of the Roman army. It was this attention to detail and cleverness that endeared him to his troops.

Julius Caesar: Energetic

In addition to being clever, Caesar was incredibly energetic. As the governor of Gaul, Caesar was able to fight wars for seven years, while also writing a series of seven books recounting his escapades. During his life, Caesar traveled non-stop. Whether he was fighting a war or simply visiting a Roman province, he was constantly on the move.

Caesar's energy was also evidenced in his romantic exploits. Over the course of his life, he had three wives and multiple mistresses. Imagine taking over a country, fighting multiple wars, AND juggling several girlfriends at the same time. The man never tired!

Julius Caesar: Cunning and Generous

Immense intelligence and energy were not the only qualities that made Caesar a formidable leader. He was also exceptionally driven, power-hungry, and cunning. Caesar came from a noble but poor family. What Caesar lacked in funds he made up for with an insatiable thirst for power. Every action was calculated; nothing he did was without purpose.

For example, when one of his greatest political opponents died, Caesar went out of his way to memorialize the man. Not because he liked him or thought he was a good guy, but because Caesar knew that speaking about his fallen adversary would help neutralize his posthumous influence.

Aside from being cunning, Caesar was also generous, bestowing lavish gifts on the people closest to him. He gave his mistress, Cleopatra, her own palace in Rome. Additionally, he showed mercy to the people he conquered and spared many of the political opponents he defeated.

Caesar's Downfall

Caesar had many positive qualities, but some of his more negative attributes worked against him. Caesar is described by Roman historian Suetonius as a good-looking guy and, given his love life, it's pretty evident that the ladies found him attractive. Despite this, Caesar was rather self-conscious, especially when it came to his hairline. He took to combing his hair a certain way or wearing a crown of laurels in an attempt to hide the fact that he was balding.

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