Julius Caesar: Model Politician or Selfish Dictator

Was Julius Caesar portrayed as a model politician or of that of a selfish dictator? None of the scripts provided were a firsthand account of the assassination but they were to be credible written by people after the assassination. This paper will conclude that Julius Caesar was deemed that of a selfish dictator than that of a model politician from the three readings. Also, it will go over the differences between how he was viewed differently from the chapters of the textbook.

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In the first reading named The Assassination of Julius Caesar, 44 BC, Julius Caesar was portrayed as a dictator more than that of a model politician. He had a rival by the name of Pompey. Once Caesar traveled to Northern Italy via the Rubicon River to dive into a civil war is when Pompey vacated to Greece. It took merely three months for Caesar to control most of Italy to include the legions loyal to Pompey. Caesar followed Pompey to Greece and even though he was outnumbered, Caesar defeated his enemies but not before his rival escaped to Egypt. Caesar, then followed Pompey to Egypt as well where he was gifted the head of Pompey. He then deemed Cleopatra the substitute ruler of Egypt. After conquering his remaining rivals in North Africa, he returned to his Rome. After the assassination of Pompey, he made certain his power was known and well put, deeming himself dictator for life. This new found power and arrogance made many people angry. So much so, that they planned an attack against his life. Upon arriving to Rome, Caesar had a meeting with the senate in which he didn’t want to attend for his own reasons. However, Brutus, a close friend and conspirator of Caesar, persuaded him that he needed to attend. It was at the conclusion of the Senate meeting when the attack came into action and Caesar was rushed by his conspirators and stabbed to death multiple times.

“There are several accounts of the assassination of Julius Casear but the most famous and arguably the most accurate was that written by Caesar’s biographer Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, who apparently has access to archives of information and may have consulted eyewitness accounts”. “More than sixty people joined the conspiracy against Julius Caesar, led by Gaius Cassius, Decimus, and Marcus Junius Brutus”. It was told that Julius Caesar conjured up any excuse not to attend the meeting at the Senate to include using his poor health not to attend. It was until Brutus encouraged him to attend the Senate and disappoint the meeting that presumably waiting for him. He hesitated for a long time until finally deciding to go to the Senate meeting. Upon taking his seat, the schemers made their way around him to pay homage. Caesar was approached by a man named Tillius Chamber, which whom he gestured away for another day. Tillius, not liking the gesture, grabbed Caesar by the shoulders and another conspirator began to unleash the stabbings upon Caesar’s body killing him at the Senate meeting.

Many communicated the secret to assassinate Caesar and asked not only their family friends but anyone brave enough to follow through will killing Caesar. After the killing of Pompey and the ruling himself the dictator for life, he gained many enemies that deemed him as a threat and that he needed to die. The most favorable day to go through with the act was in the middle of March in which they deemed this day the Ides of March. It was the day that one of those joining the theater, with a large recess, in which there stood a statue of Pompey. Caesar was discouraged by the bad dreams and feelings that he felt was necessary to not do anything of any great importance that day, but to set them off for another time, using the excuse that he was sick. As everyone gathered in the Senate, the schemers sat close to Caesar’s chair. “Once seated in the senate, they showered Caesar with kisses to his head and breast…”. He paid no attention to their advances for the most part but he realized they wouldn’t stop. That’s when he tried to get up to leave the Senate meeting. Tillius grabbed him by the robe pulling it off of his shoulders, that’s when the stabbing commenced via Casca providing the first of many wounds inflicted upon Caesar.

The textbook suggests differences from what was portrayed in these three readings. In the last three readings he was deemed a dictator that needed to be killed for his actions. However, in the textbook it stated that Caesar rose to prominence and popularity as a leader of the populares. It also states that Julius Caesar did not rule solely to satisfy his own lust for power. According to the textbook he carried out land reform and rewarded his veterans with the confiscated property he overtook. He extended out Roman citizenship to the conquered peoples, improved the administration, lowered taxes, and built public works such as aqueducts, baths, and temples. The textbook shows him as a politician and leader while the three previous readings shows him as a hated dictator.

Works Cited

  • ‘The Assassination of Julius Caesar, 44 BC.’ Eyewitness to History. 2004. http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/caesar2.htm (accessed 18 September 2011).
  • Tranquillus, Gaius Suetonius. Lives of the 12 Caesars. Translated by Joseph Gavorse. Reproduced by Livius: Articles on Ancient History. https://www.livius.org/sources/content/suetonius/suetonius-on-the-death-of-caesar/ (accessed 15 April 2019).
  • Plutarch. ‘The Assassination of Julius Caesar, from Marcus Brutus (excerpts).’ Translated by John Dryden. Reproduced by Internet Ancient History Sourcebook. August 2000. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/plutarch-caesar.asp (accessed 18 September 2011).
  • Pavlac, B. A. (2015) A Concise Survey of Western Civilization: Supremacies and Diversities Throughout History. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield
01 August 2022

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