Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Fallen Star - A Short History of the Life of Julius Caesar

Born around 100 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, Julius Caesar was reared into the fraught, semipolitical wars of Marius and Sylla; Marius being the leader of all plebeians, Sylla being the leader of the aristocrats or patricians of which political party held the most sway in the senate during Caesar's youth. The young Caesar's persuasions were with Marius of who's family he was also married into, in spite of the fact he was born of Patrician stock. As a young man Caesar did not involve himself in politics, however when Sylla sent orders to Caesar to disown his wife, Caesar flagrantly and haphazardly refused, such was the fervid, heady and unsubduable insubmissiveness of his personality. It was these same character traits that led him to take risks throughout his careor.

Having defied Sylla who had now placed him on a most wanted list, Caesar fled Rome. For a time he wandered about and with a festal and light heart he enjoyed society. At one point during his wanderings Ceaser was held to ransom on a ship by Pirates, yet his will would not yield to his captors. When told to send word to Rome to pay for his ransom Caesar proudly told them he would have them paid a considerable amount more then they originally demanded. In response to this the Pirates were struck with awe. Caesar became imperious with the Pirates, ordering them about until his ransom was paid and he was returned to Rome. Then upon his return to Rome he sent his men to where the Pirates where anchored, there he had their throats cut and their dead bodies nailed to crosses while recovering his ransom money. Surely this was a sign of a future tyrant? However upon his accession Caesar proved himself to be an egotist but not a tyrant. More than anything else, Caesar is renowned for his long-drawn-out contests with his enemies, more so even than each and every war that he successfully fought and won. Yet he was merciful to all who opposed him once he had overcome the obstacles they set for him.

One of his rivals was a man called Pompay. Pompay was a few years younger than Caesar, good looking, charismatic and articulate in The Forum where public figures held speeches. Like Ceaser, to gain the hearts of the populace Pompay spent extravagant amounts of money on public entertainment venues, importing gladiators and wild beasts to be pit against each other in the Coliseum, organising public feasts and so forth. During Pompay's wooing of the populace Caesar had been at war in another land. Jealous of the key to the city Pompay set about a war with the returning Caesar, but it was in vain. Pompay fled to Egypt, the only country he knew of that was not under Rome's jurisdiction. As the Egyptians did not want to antagonise the Romans they could think of no other option than to assassinate Pompay. Pompay was murdered and his head was cut off and sent to Caesar who had been on Pompay's tail; but when Caesar beheld the head of his former foe he was distressed, for he had no intention of killing him, instead he intended to welcome him back to Rome and assign for him a new occupation there. Pompay left behind him two sons.

Many years later when Ceaser has ascended to great heights, upon the near realization of his ultimate dream, his coronation, Pompay's sons, along with many other conspirators led by one of Ceaser oldest enemies, a man called Crassus, all of who did not want a monarchy reestablished in a republic that had prevailed for the past 500 years, begun to plan the assassination of Ceaser. As it happened Pompay's sons failed in their own attempts to overthrow Caesar and went into exile, there they lived for a time enduring wretched hardships before they were assassinated and their heads brought to Rome. However his enemies, led by Crassus, continued to conspire against him, and at once they begun to plan the actual assassination of Caesar. They intended to do it on the day of his coronation during the month of March, hence the saying 'beware the Ides of March'. They intended to do it publicly, so as to give the strong impression that this was what the public wanted. On the day of his coronation Caesar sat down to receive petitions, as was the custom. One of his would be assassins looked up at the statue of his foe, the former Pompay and begun to invoke it. The assassin was suddenly filled with an angry passion. He, followed by 26 others. approached Caesar and they begun to stir up a fight so as to produce a reaction in their pray and therefor give them an incentive to strike him with their knives. Their method was a success and all 27 of them pounced on Caesar. He fell down bloodied with his wounds and uncannily he died at the foot of Pompay's statue. After Caesar died a monument with a star above it was erected and it was said that for seven days after his death a comet blazed across the Italian skies.

(Copyright 2010, Ruth Ferez)

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