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Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and politician. His rise to power was a gradual process, caused by several factors that occurred over hundreds of years. An income gap that was crucial to Caesar’s progress originated almost two hundred years previously, as a direct result of the Punic Wars. This allowed Caesar, with Marcus Licinius Crassus and Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (known as Pompey), to gain the political influence that was necessary to exercise control over Rome. Julius Caesar himself was able to gain power from the First Triumvirate because as governor of Gaul, he had controlled the majority of viable military assets. He was murdered by the senator Brutus in March 43 BC, and is now one of the most famous men in history.

BiographyEdit

The large wealth gap in Rome, exacerbated by the Punic Wars, meant that it was easy for a small group of wealthy people to get vast amounts of power. While the victory brought Rome great treasures and riches, these spoils went mainly to the patrician leadership class. At the expense of the impoverished urban dwellers, wealthy estate-owners amassed great fortunes and allowed themselves to take control of vast political and military resources. Among those remarkably wealthy people were Julius Caesar, Licinius Crassus, and Pompey. Crassus and Pompey had been colleagues in the consulship in 70 B.C., but since that time, the two men had entertained considerable antipathy for one another.

Caesar tried to reconcile the two men, and then combined their clout with his own to have himself elected consul in 59 B.C.; using his existing friendship with Crassus and reassuring Pompey by offering his daughter in marriage. The alliance combined Caesar's enormous popularity, Crassus's fantastic wealth and Pompey's equally spectacular riches and military reputation. Caesar then proceeded to make himself governor of Gaul and Illyricum, renewing his term whenever it expired, which gave him command of four legions, while Crassus and Pompey secured other positions for themselves.

In about 50 B.C., Crassus defied the Senate’s orders and tried to invade Persia without their permission. This decision would mark the beginning of the end for the First Triumvirate, as Crassus was then killed during the Battle of Carrhae. With Crassus dead, Caesar’s main friend and ally was gone. Julius Caesar’s military successes in Gaul had already been arousing Pompey’s jealousy, who had begun to distance himself from the man. Having already been elected consul without a colleague in 52 B.C., Pompey took part in the politicking which led to Caesar's crossing of the Rubicon in 49 B.C., starting the Roman Civil War.

From the outset, Caesar possessed a clear tactical advantage. As a result of his alliance with Crassus, he was able to grant himself control over the most powerful assets of the Roman military, as well as providing him with a superior tactical position. This goes without mentioning Caesar’s brilliant strategic planning, using experience gained during his Gallic campaigns. Pompey was made commander-in-chief of the war by the Roman Senate, but was defeated by his former ally at Pharsalus. Pompey's subsequent murder in Egypt in an inept political intrigue left Caesar sole master of the Roman world.

Caesar proved to be an able ruler and enacted many reforms to try to ameliorate the rich-poor gap. The most significant of these was the redistribution of latifundia to the poor, which resulted in lower productivity but kept the power of landowners in check. He also conquered additional areas in Gaul and Germania Inferior, drawing up plans for an invasion of Britain. Before these plans could be realized, however, Julius Caesar was assassinated in March 43 BC by Brutus, a senator; Brutus and his colleagues had concluded that Caesar was abusing his power and corrupting Rome's political system.

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