CESAR, CAIIIS JULIUS, son of a Roman praetor of the same name, was born July 12, 102 B. C. His circum stances and connections made him a resolute adherent of the democratic party at Rome. His aunt Julia was wife of Caius Marius; and in 83 B. C. Julius himself was married to Cornelia, daughter of Lucius Cinna, one of the principal enemies of Sulla. The anger of the dictator at this marriage cost Caesar his rank, property, and almost his life itself. Feeling that he would be safer abroad for a time, he went to Asia, 81 B. c.; but on learning of the death of Sulla (78 B. C.) , he hurried back to Rome, where he found the popu lar party in a state of great ferment, and anxious to regain what it had lost under the vigorous, despotism of the aris tocratic dictator. Caesar, however, took no part in the attempts of `Lepidus to overthrow the oligarchy; but he showed his political leanings by prosecuting (77 B. C.) Cnveus Dolabella—a great parti san of Sulla—for extortion in his prov ince of Macedonia. To improve his eloquence, he went to Rhodes to study under the rhetor Apollonius Molo.
In 74 B. C. he returned to Rome, where he had been elected pontifex, and now for the first time threw himself ear nestly into public life. He soon became the most active leader of the democratic party, and had a large share in effect ing the agreement by which Pompey and Crassus accepted the popular policy. The result was the overthrow of the Sullan constitution in 70 B. C., and the restoration of popular institutions such as the tribunate. In 68 B. C. Caesar ob tained a qustorship in Spain. On his return to Rome (67 B. C.) , he married Pompeia, a relative of Pompey, with whom he was daily becoming more inti mate. In 65 B. C. he held the curule dileship, and lavished vast sums of money on games and public buildings, by which he increased his already great popularity. For the next few years Caesar is found steadily active on the popular side. In 63 B. C. he was elected pontifex maximus, and shortly after praetor. During the same year occurred the famous debate on the Catiline con spiracy, in which the aristocratic party vainly endeavored to persuade the con sul, Cicero, to include Caesar in the list of conspirators. In 61 B. C. Casar ob tained the province of Hispania Ul terior. His government of that province was useful to him as giving him mili tary experience and supplying the means wherewith to meet his enormous debts. On his return he was elected consul, along with Calpurnius Bibulus.
With rare tact and sagacity reconciled the two most powerful men in Rome, who were then at variance, Pom pey and Crassus, and formed an alli ance with them, known in history as the First Triumvirate (60 B. C.) . Ciesar's
proceedings during his consulship were marked by this policy of to Pompey. To strengthen the union which had been formed, Caesar gave Pompey his daughter Julia in marriage, though she had been promised to Bru tus. On the expiration of his term of office, he obtained for himself, by the popular vote, the province of Gallia Cis alpina and Illyricum for five years, to which the senate added—to prevent the popular assembly from doing so—the province of Gallia Transalpina.
In 58 B. C. Caesar repaired to his prov inces, and during the next nine years conducted those splendid campaigns in Gaul by which he completed the subju gation of the West under the dominion of Rome. In his first campaign he de feated the Helvetii, and also Ariovistus, who with a large number of Germans had settled W. of the Rhine. In 57 B. C. Caesar broke up the Belgic confederacy and subdued the various tribes compos ing it, the greatest struggle being with the Nervii. During the winter and the spring following Cwsar stayed at Lucca, where he had a memorable meeting with Pompey and Crassus, and for three years following agreed upon a common policy. It was decided that Pompey and Crassus should be consuls for the year 55 B. C., while the government of Cmsar in Gaul was to be prolonged for a sec ond term of five years till 49 B. C. In the year 56 B. c. followed the subjuga tion of the Veneti and other peoples of Brittany and Normandy, and the con quest of Gaul might be considered com plete. He now undertook a fourth cam paign against two German tribes who were about to enter Gaul. He was again successful. In the autumn of the same year (55 B. C.) he invaded Britain; but after a brief stay in the island, re turned to Gaul. In 54 B. C. Caesar opened his fifth campaign by a second invasion of Britain, in which he crossed the Thames, and enforced at least the nominal submission of the British tribes in the S. E. of the island. On his re turn to Gaul, Cxsar was compelled—on account of the scarcity of corn—to dis perse his forces for winter quarters, and this encouraged some of the Gallic tribes to revolt. It led to the first seri ous reverse which Cusar sustained in Gaul; a division of 15 cohorts was en tirely destroyed by the Eburones. But he was speedily master of the insurrec tion, and exacted a terrible vengeance on its authors.