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Temple of Julius Caesar: History

Instructor: Christina Boggs

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

Julius Caesar was a powerful ruler of Rome, but did you know that he was also considered a god? The Temple of Julius Caesar was built to commemorate him. In this lesson, you will learn about the history of the Temple of Julius Caesar.

The End of Caesar the Man and the Beginning of Caesar the God

Few stories are more dramatic and colorful than the life and times of Julius Caesar. He was a man of humble beginnings who fought his way to the top of Rome. Along his journey to becoming 'dictator for life', he made many close friends and allies, but he also made just as many enemies. Caesar met a tragic end on March 15, 44 B.C. when he was repeatedly stabbed in the Roman Senate by the very men he believed he could trust.

Despite this gruesome ending and some pretty hard feelings towards Caesar, he was still memorialized in an important area of Ancient Rome called the Forum Romanum. Before his untimely assassination, Caesar had adopted one of his nephews, a man named Gaius Octavius Thurinus. Octavius took control of Rome after Caesar died and became one of Rome's most beloved rulers, and its first emperor. Octavius was eventually given the title of Augustus, meaning 'great one'. After Caesar had died, Augustus created a new Roman tradition...dead Roman rulers would be commemorated forever as not just a man, but as a god. Yes, that's right. Augustus, actually deified, or officially made Julius Caesar a god. And what do all gods deserve? Their own temple!

The Temple of Julius Caesar

After Caesar was assassinated, he wasn't buried but cremated instead. The Romans built an altar on the spot where his funeral pyre was lit, and this became the eventual location of his temple. The Senate actually approved construction for the Temple of Julius Caesar in 42 B.C., but construction didn't begin until over a decade later. Augustus officially dedicated Caesar's temple on August 18, 29 B.C.

At the front of the temple was a large structure called the Rostra Julia, kind of like a large podium where politicians and important Romans could make speeches. Augustus was an accomplished military leader and brought back all sorts of trophies from the wars he fought. He decorated the Rostra Julia with parts of ships owned by Marc Antony and Cleopatra that Augustus had taken during the Battle of Actium.

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