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Top 10 Interesting Facts About Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar

He came, saw and conquered (‘veni, vidi, vici’), the Roman general, writer and politician Julius Caesar. He claimed that of all the Gauls, the Belgians were the bravest (‘Horum omnium fortissimi sunt Belgae’), a statement that is of course heavily emphasized in Belgian history books. Julius Caesar was a Roman aristocrat. He was born around the year 100 BC and killed in the year 44 BC. Julius Caesar conquered Gaul (present-day France, Belgium, southern Netherlands and western Germany) and added this vast area to the Roman Empire. Caesar was also a writer and orator. In his book ‘De bello Gallico’ he describes his glorious victory over the Gauls. Julius Caesar left a big mark on Roman history.

He was not born by caesarean section

It is a persistent rumor that Caesar was born by Caesarean section. The medical name for a caesarean section (‘sectio caesarea’) does indeed refer to Caesar, but it is unlikely that a caesarean section was already performed in the first century BC.

His mother, Aurelia, at least survived the birth of her son. Cutting open and closing the abdominal wall and uterus, without anaesthesia, without disinfectants and without advanced medical equipment, would have simply been fatal for mother and child at the time. It was not until the modern 20th century that caesarean sections could be performed safely and responsibly.

Caesar captured by pirates

Caesar was kidnapped by pirates at a young age† In the year 75 BC. he sailed on a ship across the Aegean Sea on his way to the island of Rhodes. However, his ship was boarded by pirates and Caesar was imprisoned along with the other passengers.

After the payment of the demanded ransom, Caesar was released after 38 days, but he was looking for revenge. At the age of 25, he put together a fleet of his own to track down the pirates. He found them on the same small island where he had been imprisoned and captured all the corsairs.

At such a young age, he showed his determination: when the trial of the pirates did not proceed quickly enough to his liking, he left them hanging on the cross himself. However, Caesar showed mercy: he first had the pirates slit their throats, so that they would be spared a slow and painful death on the cross…

Flee for his life

Julius Caesar married in 84 BC. with his first wife, Cornelia Cinna Minor. She was the daughter of Lucius Cornelius Cinna, a consul of Rome who defended the interests of the common people.

After the death of Caesar’s father-in-law, Sulla, an opponent of Lucius Cornelius Cinna, came to power. He asked Caesar to divorce Cornelia, which Caesar promptly refused. Knowing that this would put his life in danger, Caesar fled Rome. Caesar was outlawed by Sulla and could only return to Rome after influential friends of Sulla stood up for Caesar.

Caesar and Cleopatra had a son together

Although Julius Caesar refused to divorce his first wife, he was not exactly a faithful husband. He had numerous affairs with other women, the most famous of which is Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt .

Caesar begot a son by Cleopatra, Caesarion. Caesarion would be appointed ruler of Egypt as a three-year-old, along with his mother Cleopatra. When Octavian (later to become Roman Emperor Augustus) invaded Egypt, Cleopatra committed suicide along with her then lover Mark Antony.

In the same year, Caesarion was assassinated at the behest of Octavian at the age of 16. The relationship between Cleopatra and her lovers Julius Caesar and Mark Antony formed the screenplay for numerous books, plays and (Hollywood) films.

He was the founder of the Julian calendar

The original Roman calendar had only 355 days. Since this was not at all in keeping with the Earth’s orbit around the sun, Julius Caesar, as head of Roman worship, decided to introduce a new calendar.

The number of days in a month was increased. Henceforth, the year would have 365 days, with a leap year of 366 days every four years. The year would henceforth also begin on January 1, and the seventh month was named ‘July’ in honor of Caesar. Later, the eighth month would be given the name of the first Roman emperor: Augustus.

The Julian calendar continued to be used until 1582. Then, by order of Pope Gregory XIII, the so-called Gregorian calendar was introduced, which was actually only a minor modification of the original Julian calendar.

Caesar wasn’t exactly a wimp

A Roman army commander who conquered a vast territory like Gaul could not be a wimp. Caesar was not to be fooled, his will was law. This was experienced by the tribesmen who slyly surrendered to Caesar, only to launch a surprise attack on the Roman army.

After putting down this attack, Caesar had all the remaining 53,000 tribesmen sold into slavery without batting an eyelid. Nor did he shy away from building a second wall around a besieged city, so that no inhabitant could escape.

Caesar’s measures against traffic jams

Anyone who thinks that traffic jams and congestion are a problem of our time is profoundly wrong. Even in ancient Rome, traffic was often at a standstill, due to horse-drawn carts and carriages blocking passage through the narrow streets.

Caesar promptly put an end to this traffic jam by banning horse-drawn carriages in Rome during the day. This allowed residents of Rome to reach their destination on time during the day…

A laurel wreath against baldness

A laurel wreath was normally only worn by generals during a triumphal procession. However, Julius Caesar always wore a laurel wreath. Some attributed this to Caesar’s self-righteousness and high self-esteem, but there was a much more practical reason. After all, Caesar suffered from incipient baldness. With the laurel wreath he was able to hide the bald spots on his head.

Caesar killed with 23 dagger stabs

Julius Caesar died a violent death in the year 44 BC. On March 15 of that year, Caesar was present at a meeting of the Roman Senate. Senators fearing that Caesar was drawing too much power to himself had plotted in advance and stabbed him to death with 23 stabs.

According to contemporary sources, it was only one of 23 stab wounds that killed Caesar, due to excessive blood loss. Senator Brutus was one of the conspirators. Legend has it that Caesar exclaimed ‘Et tu, Brute’ (‘You too, Brutus’), but there is no historical evidence of this statement.

His killer almost became his successor

As ruler of the Roman Empire, Caesar had of course made a will. He had appointed his nephew and adoptive son Octavian as his successor. Octavian would become the first Roman emperor under the name Augustus after Caesar’s assassination and years of civil war.

Had Octavian not taken power, Brutus might have come to the throne. Caesar had indeed appointed Brutus as his second successor. He regarded Brutus, a key conspirator and implicator in the massacre, almost as his own son…

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