Gaius Julius Caesar was born in July 100 BC to a relatively modest though ambitious patrician family which supported the Populare faction in Rome rather than the Optimate faction. He was a Roman politician and general.
Caesar became head of family at the age of 16 when his father died (84BC). He was named as Flamen Dialis (a priest of Jupiter) which led to his marriage to Lucius Cinna’s daughter, Cornelia.
There followed a civil war which Sulla won. Sulla took Rome in 82 BC, purged his political enemies, and instituted new constitutional reforms. Sulla ordered Caesar to resign the priesthood and divorce his wife. A compromise was reached so that Caesar would resign his priesthood but keep his wife.
Caesar then joined the army to make a living and left Italy to serve in the staff of the governor of Asia, Marcus Minucius Thermus. He served at the siege of Mytilene where he won the civic crown for saving the life of a fellow citizen. After the capture of the Mytilene, Caesar transferred to the staff of Publius Servilius Vatia in Cilicia. He learned of Sulla’s death in 78 BC and returned to Rome immediately.
He then became a highly regarded lawyer/orator. In 75 BCE, while sailing to Greece to pursue his studies, Caesar was kidnapped by pirates and held for ransom. On his release he hunted down the pirates. His further studies were interrupted by the outbreak of the Third Mithridatic War over the winter of 75 and 74 BC.
Caesar then decided to return to Rome and was elected one of the military tribunes for 71 BC. Caesar was allotted to serve under Gaius Antistius Vetus in Hispania Ulterior for his quaestorship in 69 BC. His wife Cornelia died shortly after bearing his only legitimate child, Julia., before he left for Spain. Caesar quickly married Sulla’s grand-daughter Pompeia. Caesar supported Gnaeus Pompeius (later known as Pompey the Great) for a generalship and he also became friends with the wealthiest man in Rome, Marcus Licinius Crassus. Caesar won election to the position of Chief Priest (Pontifex Maximus) in 63 BCE with Crassus’ financial support.
In 62 BC he was elected praetor and divorced Pompeia for adultery. He sailed for Spain in 61 BC as Propraetor (governor) of Hispania where he successfully pacified the tribes.
Caesar entered into a business/political agreement with Pompey and Crassus in 60 BC.
On his return he was given the choice between a triumph or being able to stand for a consulship. He chose the consulship and won election in 59 BC. Now Pompey had the soldiers, Crassus, the wealth, and Caesar the consulship, so they effectively ruled Rome. Caesar married Calpurnia, the daughter of a wealthy and powerful Populare senator, and married his daughter Julia to Pompey to further cement their alliance.
However, Caesar had many political enemies who would prosecute him once his consulship ended. As Consul Caesar decided to leave Rome with his legions and went to Gaul in 58 BC to win fame and fortune and to protect himself from his enemies. He defeated the tribes, secured the borders of the provinces; intimidated the Germanic tribes over the Rhine, and twice invaded Britain.
Crassus was killed in battle against the Parthians in 54 BC and, that same year, Julia died in childbirth, which weakened Caesar’s connection with Pompey.
From the period 52 to 49 BC, trust between Caesar and Pompey disintegrated. In 51 BC, Cato, Bibulus, and their allies won Pompey over to their side and persuaded him to take a hard line against Caesar’s continued command. Pompey now aligned himself with the Optimate faction in Rome which he had long favoured rather than the Populaire faction he had supported with Caesar and Crassus. He was now Caesar’s most important and powerful enemy.
In 50 BC fears of civil war grew. Both Caesar and his opponents started building up forces. In the autumn, Cicero and others sought disarmament by both Caesar and Pompey, and on 1 December 50 BC this was formally proposed in the Senate but was not passed.
At the beginning of 49 BC, Caesar made a renewed offer that he and Pompey both disarm to the Senate but this was rejected by his hardliner enemies. Caesar’s main objectives seem to have been a second consulship and a triumph, and, ideally, disarmament by himself and his enemies. Pompey was really the sole military and political power in Rome and was growing in jealousy of Caesar. On the 7 January, the tribunes who supported Caesar were driven from Rome and the Senate then declared him an enemy and it issued its senatus consultum ultimum. This would mean Caesar could be prosecuted for his actions when he was consul.
Caesar returned to the borders of Italy and arrived on the Rubicon in January 49 BC with the 13th Legion.
He had a decision to take. Should he cross the river and enter Italy and start a civil war against Pompey and his other enemies, or disband his troops and enter Rome, which his enemies controlled, alone and unprotected and face death or exile?