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Where & When Was Julius Caesar Born?

Instructor: Ian Aebel

Ian Aebel is a historian, researcher, educator, and writer with a Ph.D. in History and M.S.T. in College Teaching.

Born in Rome at the start of the last century before the common era, Julius Caesar (c. 100 BCE to 44 BCE) came into the world during a tumultuous time for the Roman Republic.

Birth and Family

Imagine being so famous that part of the calendar is changed just to honor you. As a society, we rarely do this anymore -- Christmas won't become the 25th of Kardashian anytime soon! -- but throughout history, famous people have changed the calendar. Just look at Gaius Julius Caesar.

Caesar (c. 100 BCE to 44 BCE) was born in Rome on the 11th of Quintilis, or July, as it would come to be named to honor him later. The year of his birth is somewhat controversial. Scholars disagree on the exact year, and arguments have been made for each year from 102 to 99 BCE. However, the most accepted date is 100 BCE.

Roman Calendar showing Quin, or Quintilis, the month of Caesar
Roman Calendar

Caesar's family traced itself back to Aeneas, son of the Greek goddess Aphrodite and a hero in the Trojan War. Powerful families in ancient times, similar to those in the present, liked to legitimate their position by constructing elaborate genealogies showing how they were related to famous people from the past. While it is unlikely that Caesar's family was descended from a fictional character in an ancient Greek war, the Caesars had a long record of public service, holding office through most of the republican era in Rome.

The Roman Republic at the Dawn of Caesar

By the time Caesar was born, the Roman Republic was facing a series of crises that would lead to its fall at the hands of Caesar himself. Over the past two centuries, Rome had become a world power and had taken over a great deal of territory. Unfortunately, the government was not equipped to govern an empire and had little control over those in charge of the outer provinces. Far away from the seat of power in Rome, provincial governors ran their territories how they wanted, gaining wealth and treating their subjects unfairly.

Even more problematic was the military. Instead of taking their orders from Rome, those in the military began to look to their commanders for guidance. For an empire built on military conquest, to have the military outside of the control of the Senate, or the seat of government in the Roman Republic, was a huge issue. The Senate could no longer count on the military obeying their orders.

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