Was Julius Caesar a Good Leader?

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  • 0:00 Was Julius Caesar A…
  • 0:35 Caesar The Good Leader
  • 2:15 Caesar The Not So Good Leader
  • 4:33 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.

Was Julius Caesar a good leader? This is a question that historians have worked to answer for over 2,000 years. In this lesson, you will learn about the ways Caesar was both a good and not so good leader of Rome.

Was Julius Caesar a Good Leader?

Was Julius Caesar a good leader? This is a loaded question, kind of like asking, Is McDonald's good or bad? You could say that the food tastes good, but it's bad for you! Julius Caesar is a controversial character from history; you could argue his leadership qualities and his impact on Rome for days.

So back to the question: Was Julius Caesar a good leader? The short answer to the question is both yes and no. There were many things that Caesar did that made him a remarkable leader. On the other hand, many of his actions were questionable and upset his fellow Romans.

Caesar the Good Leader

One of the earliest examples of Caesar as a good leader comes from his early life. Julius Caesar was born into a patrician family in Rome; although they were technically considered part of Rome's aristocracy, they didn't have much money. This fact put Caesar at a distinct disadvantage. Despite a lack of wealth and influence, Caesar set himself apart as a smart and confident individual. He joined the military at a young age, demonstrated his prowess on the battlefield, and eventually built up his own personal army. Throughout his early career, Caesar managed to secure multiple positions in the government, another testament to the confidence Romans had in his abilities.

By the year 60 B.C., at the age of 40, Caesar was elected to the position of consul, one of two men in charge of leading Rome at the same time. During his time as consul, Caesar passed a number of reforms through the Senate including:

  • Giving land to poor Romans
  • Making sure military veterans had land after their service
  • A law against extortion, or threatening someone to get what you want

After his time as consul, Caesar spent nearly a decade in the Roman province of Gaul located in present-day France. At the time, Gaul was filled with different warring tribes. Thanks to Caesar's strong abilities as a governor and general, he managed to quash their rebellions and bring all of Gaul under Roman control.

In 44 B.C. Caesar was named the 'dictator for life' of Rome, a title that's not given lightly! During his time as dictator, he managed to overhaul the tax system, rebuild parts of the Roman Empire, and improve the calendar.

Caesar the Not So Good Leader

While Caesar certainly had many positive qualities and did many things that made him a good leader, there's an equally long list of things that make him a not so great leader. For starters, Caesar managed to become consul through a shady political alliance with two other Roman politicians, Crassus and Pompey. Called the First Triumvirate, the three men manipulated the Senate to get what they wanted. Even though the land reforms passed during Caesar's time as consul were beneficial to many Romans, the way he forced them through the Senate were not exactly legal. When he realized things weren't going the way he wanted, Caesar started a riot in Rome and then took advantage of the mayhem to pass the laws.

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