Over the course of the Roman empire, there were many Emperors that we remember. Caligula and Nero among others may steal the limelight with their debauched behaviour but Julius Caesar deserves a mention. Caesar was a superb politician and brave General who became one of the truly great Emperors. His achievements were so great that many other languages used a variation on his name to mean ruler!
Caesar was one bad ass dude – after conquering a country, he famously gazed across the battlefield and said ‘I came, I saw, I conquered’! As befits such a key historical figure we already know quite a lot about him. But here are a few facts that you may not know about the man who had a whole month of the year named after him (July if you were wondering).
10 – He Wasn’t Born By C Section
Many historians believed that Caesar was born by caesarean section. Born in 100 B.C., many thought that he was given the name based on how he was delivered. It would seem this was quite unlikely though as these operations were usually fatal to the mother in ancient times. It is doubtful that Roman doctors would have risked the life of Caesars mother in such a way. Instead, it is more likely he got his name from an ancestor on his mother’s side of the family.
09 – He Was Once Captured By Pirates
Long before becoming emperor, Caesar was a restless young man. In his mid-twenties, he decided to go to Rhodes to study with Apollonius. Apollonius was a famed scholar and had produced many fine students including Roman historian Cicero. On the way to Rhodes though, Caesar’s ship was attacked by pirates and he was captured. After being released when his ransom was paid, Caesar went straight back with a group of men to hunt the pirates down!
08 – He Once Had To Flee For His Life
In 84 B.C., Caesar married his first wife who was called Cornelia. Trouble soon followed however when an enemy of his father-in-law called Sulla rose to prominence in Rome. Sulla ordered Caesar to divorce Cornelia to show his loyalty which Caesar refused. Fearing for his life, he had to go on the run to escape and was only allowed back to Rome when influential friends talked to Sulla for him.
07 – He Had A Son With Cleopatra
In truth, Caesar was a real ladies man! Married a total of 3 times, he also enjoyed numerous affairs as well. One of these flings was with famous Egyptian beauty and ruler, Cleopatra. This got even more complicated when Cleopatra started to see another Roman general, Mark Anthony, behind his back! What is interesting is that the affair between Caesar and Cleopatra produced a son. Known as Caesarion (and later Ptolemy XV), he would go on to rule Egypt with his mother and then alone before being killed by Roman emperor Octavian.
06 – He Made Up The Leap Year
When Caesar was growing up, the standard Roman calendar was only 355 days long. This was totally out of synch with the solar cycle and led to much confusion each year. When in power, he rectified this by introducing the Julian calendar which mirrored the Earth’s solar cycle. There was just one problem – the Julian calendar was 365 days long per year while the exact lunar cycle was 365 days and a quarter! To make up the difference, he put an extra day in the calendar every four years!
05 – When Killed Only Blow Was Fatal
The murder of Julius Caesar is perhaps the most famous event in Roman history. An uprising against his rule saw a band of disgruntled senators stab him 23 times to kill him. What is interesting is that, of all the 23 wounds, only 1 was fatal! The doctor who examined Caesar at the time actually ruled that he died mainly because of blood loss, rather than a combination of fatal blows.
04 – He Was Not To Be Messed With
This sort of goes with the territory when you are first a Roman solider then Emperor! Although not as completely mental as someone like Caligula, Caesar was still no pushover. Examples of this are many like the time a tribe surrendered to his army as a ploy before launching a surprise attack. After quelling the rebellion, he sold all 53,000 remaining tribe members into slavery as a punishment. Another famous exploit was building a second wall around a city he was besieging to keep anyone from escaping the onslaught.
03 – His Murderer Almost Succeeded Him
Before his death Caesar had drawn up a will like all good Emperors should. This will named Octavian as his successor on the throne. As Octavian lived to take up this offer, it all worked out as planned. What would have been interesting is if that hadn’t of happened! Caesar had named Brutus, one his attackers, as next in line if Octavian couldn’t or wouldn’t become Emperor. Brutus was actually liked and trusted by Caesar, hence the line ‘Et tu Brute’ that Caesar uttered on seeing his attackers coming towards him.
02 – He Had To Put Traffic Control In Place
Many people think that it is only modern cities that have trouble with traffic. This is actually not true at all as ancient Rome can testify. The congestion in the ancient city from chariots and such like got so bad that Caesar banned them all during daylight hours. This gave the inhabitants of the city some relief from the hustle and bustle while being able to go about their daily lives too.
01 – He Wore The Laurel Wreath To Cover Up His Baldness
When you think of Julius Caesar, you automatically picture a man with a laurel wreath perched proudly atop his head. While you may think this was purely a fashion statement or held more significant purposes, it actually was used to cover his bald patch up! Caesar was apparently paranoid about losing his hair and used the wreath to keep it from the Roman public.
The lives of the ancient Roman emperors have long been a source of fascination for many. Caesar is not exempt from this, but you may not have come across the above before. As a Roman Emperor, he was certainly one of the best and will be long remembered for his period on the throne in imperial Rome.