Imagine a wealthy man who had come from relative obscurity. He took a small fortune and at great personal risk turned it into a very large one. Bankruptcy threatened him over and over again. He used creative legalities to stay one step ahead of his enemies. He earned both fame and fortune. His eccentricities were a matter of public gossip. He was known as a ladies man. He was a man of International intrigue.
Imagine a man loved by the common citizen. They would do anything for him. Yet this same man was hated by the political elites. They hated him so much they wanted him dead. He fought the corrupt political system. But he also used the system to his advantage.
Imagine a man who had such a dynamic personality that the whole world took notice. Some loved him. Others hated him. Nobody ignored him.
Does that sound like any rich and famous leaders of our own day? Who does that sound like to you? Maybe Donald Trump? Maybe John F. Kennedy? The more things change… the more they stay the same. We are of course, describing not someone of our own day, but one of the most famous leaders in all of world history – Julius Caesar.
Did you know that …
• Julius Caesar was a gifted orator and author?
• Julius Caesar was captured by pirates in his 20’s?
• Julius Caesar was a decorated soldier as a young man?
• Julius Caesar is the father of the leap year?
• Our month of July was named to commemorate Julius Caesar?
• Julius Caesar was a legendary military general and strategist? – One of the greatest generals of all time. He often accomplished what others claimed to be impossible.
• Julius Caesar was adored by the Roman people and he included them in his will?
• Julius Caesar was the first to make a Roman coin with his own image on it? – Up until this coin depicting Caesar in 44 B.C. Roman coins portrayed their gods on Roman coins not their rulers.
A larger than life man, Julius Caesar was born 12 July, 100 B.C. and was assassinated on 15 March 44 B.C.
From humble beginnings
Caesar's father was of an ancient roman noble family. The family had become somewhat insignificant politically. His father held various Roman offices during the young Julius Caesar’s life. When Julius was 16 years old his father died. He was now head of his family.
Julius Caesar was an ambitious young man. He made alliances with powerful families through marriage. He was appointed to be the high priest of Jupiter. There were intrigues and wars. He was commanded to divorce his wife or die. He refused and went into hiding by joining the army.
He was a courageous soldier and earned the Civic Crown for bravery during the siege of Mytilene. He then returned to Rome and gained a name as an energetic lawyer for a couple of years. On his way to Rhodes to improve his public speaking skills he was captured by pirates.
Captured by Pirates
They say he convinced the pirates to increase his ransom demand. He became friendly with the pirates, but promised he would crucify each of them. It seems they thought he was joking. After a month the ransom was paid. After his release, he then gathered a private fleet to hunt down the pirates. He found the pirates and kept his promise. As an act of mercy he cut their throats before crucifying them.
Chasing Fame and Fortune
Julius Caesar spent the next 15 years going from obscurity to famous. He raised his own army and took part in the Third Mithridatic War. He then served as a Tribune. He served various political and religious offices. He was married and divorced and married again making powerful alliances. He seemed to play both sides of political rivals.
In 60 BC he created an unofficial alliance called the first triumvirate with the political rivals Pompey and Crassus. In 59 BC he served as Consul, the top political and military position in Rome. From here he was assigned to be the governor of Gaul, a rebellious and ungovernable province. He set about a plan to conquer all of Gaul.
Veni, Vidi, Vici – I Came; I Saw; I Conquered.
Hundreds of years before the Gauls had actually sacked Rome. Many considered the Gauls to be equal to or greater in military strength and training to the Romans. Caesar’s ambition was to do what many in Rome thought couldn’t be done.
His enemies hoped he would die in battle. Caesar’s military strategy and fearless leadership lead to victory after victory. He was already a military hero. After the Gallic Wars, Romans would consider him a god.
He conquered the Swiss, the Suebi, the Belgians and the Nervii tribes. After conquering Gaul, he expanded Roman territory. He crossed the Rhine and into ancient Germany for the first time. He crossed the channel into the area that would later become Britain.
After Caesar had mostly subjugated the Gauls, there was a last general uprising to throw off Roman rule. It looked like they would defeat Caesar. They had 80,000 troops. Caesar only had 60,000. The Gauls had some initial success. Then Caesar forced his enemy to take a defensive position inside the fortress of Alesia. As Caesar laid siege an extremely large relief force came to the aid of the fortress. Some say the relief force was as large as 250,000 Gauls.
Caesar had a wall around the fortress to keep the Gauls from escaping and he created another wall around his army to defend against the attacking army. Caesar was trapped. Victory seemed impossible.
Caesar’s bravery, leadership and strategies defeated both the relief force and the army inside the fortress. The Gauls were subjugated completely and absorbed into the Roman empire. It was an incredible victory. Caesar won both fame and fortune from these victories.
In Rome political alliances unraveled and Caesar was ordered to resign from his position as Governor of Gaul. As a private citizen at home they hoped to arrest him and execute him as a tyrant. Instead of stepping down, he chose to cross the Rubicon. He marched his battle hardened legion, the Legio XIII Gemina, on Rome.
This act of defiance started a civil war. The Civil war would last for years. Battles would be fought all over the world including Greece and Egypt. Caesar would eventually have complete victory.
He wanted to be the dictator for life. This position of supreme authority in the Roman Republic was supposed to only exist for extreme emergencies and then only for a period of 6 months.
However, Caesar did want what he believed was best for Rome. He felt that the corruption in Roman government and society needed to be stopped. Caesar’s reforms made extremely popular with the people. His reforms were not appreciated by either his rivals or the corrupt politicians of Rome. They saw what Caesar did as tyrannical and against Roman law.
Caesar gave citizenship to many of the people he had conquered. He initiated land reform and support for army veterans. He created his own strong centralized bureaucracy. Caesar created the Julian calendar.
Julius Caesar Changed the World
Julius Caesar changed the Rome and thus the world. His success made his name a synonym for Emperor.
On the 15th of March 44 BC on the senate floor a conspiracy of 60 senators led by Cassius and Brutus, Julius Caesar was assassinated. These senators thought they would be hailed as heroes for killing a tyrant. They couldn’t image anybody really liked him. They found out how wrong they were. Five days later when his will was read the people learned that every citizen of Rome was granted 75 drachmas. (This is the equivalent of around $6,000 today, given to every man in Rome.) His grand-nephew Octavian was named his successor. A new civil war broke out and the result would be Rome reborn into an Empire.
The First Commemorative Coin in our Roman Empire Series
Hopefully, you were able to get one of the Julius Caesar commemorative coins. It is the beginning of a collection of 12 Roman Empire coins released exclusively through 7k Metals. This coin face is a replica of the coin Julius Caesar issued himself in 44 B.C.
Roman coins had never before had an image of their ruler. Their coins usually showed their gods. Now Caesar’s image was on a coin. This act alone helped elevate Caesar to the status of a Roman god. He paved the way for the Roman Empire. The idea of Caesar worship likely began with this coin.
Here are the details:
Year of Issue : 2021
Country of Issue : Cook Islands
Face Value : 5 Dollars
Coin Weight : 1 Troy Ounce
Metal Purity : .999
Metal Composition : Fine Silver
Mintage : 500