Society - People
By: - at October 12, 2013

15 Interesting Facts About Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar is one of the most recognizable names of all time. His name has been a title, an insult, countless movies have been made about his life as well as books, TV shows, and even the month of July is named after him. This is a man who was determined to conquer the world in any way possible both in men’s hearts, and his desire of having more power than anyone else ever had before.

Julius Caesar

Unfortunately for him, he was assassinated before all his plans could be realized. While the assassination of Caesar was an understandably giant upheaval especially because of the treasonous aspect of his death, and what came to pass following the pivotal assassination was almost as fascinating as the assassination itself. Surprisingly, not too much is known about Julius Caesar’s life, but what is known interests readers and historians. Many people will be studying his life for generations to come. There’s nearly as much misinformation out there as accurate information, and the official record as far as Caesar's life is almost never straight. As is true with all historical accounts, stories vary and factual accounts have quite a bit of variation depending on who is making a detailed account of events years many after they occurred. Here are a few of the facts and myths that will help you get a much more conception of Caesar's life, and who he was as a man.

15)  Julius Caesar was NOT born by Cesarean Section (C-section)
The medical term Cesarean Section, was named after Julius Caesar who was believed to have been born by C-Section. There are many reasons that the names Caesar and Cesarean could match up, but Julius Caesar was not actually being born this way. Although C-Sections were an option during Caesar's time, they were typically a last resort to save the child.

Early Cesarean Procedure
Early Cesarean Procedure

Mothers often died as a result of the procedure. Cesarean sections during Caesar's time were only done as a last resort, typically when the arriving baby would most likely die without performing one. The simple fact that Julius Caesar’s mother lived for some time during her son’s life, makes it ascertainable that he was not born this way.

julius Caesar

Plutarch suggests that one of Caesar’s ancestors may have been born that way. Another common theory is that the word for the medical procedure comes from the Latin word “Caedere,” which means “to cut.” This seems plausible given the primitive nature of medical science in the Roman Empire. Caesar himself, according to Plutarch’s “Caesar,” believed his family name came from a word meaning “elephants,” and so elephants were placed on the first series of coinage commissioned during his reign.

14)  Julius Caesar Was Almost a Priest
History is shaped by men and women who live extraordinary lives, and help shape the way of the world. Julius Caesar was absolutely lived up to these standards. Often a few different decisions could have drastically altered the course of their lives, moving them towards a completely different life path. Caesar was extremely close to becoming a priest and decided to worship the god Jupiter. If everything had continued that way Caesar would have just lived out his life, with no public power esteem. Priests were not permitted to touch horses, nor were they not permitted to sleep for three nights outside of their temple cities. Young Julius Caesar could never have been a military man if he kept pursing the life of a priest.

Warrior Vercingetorix Throws Down his Weapons at the Feet of Caesar (sitting)
Warrior Vercingetorix Throws Down his Weapons at the Feet of Caesar (sitting)

Soon after Caesar was made a priest, his rival for power in Rome, Sulla, made a move that would devastate young Julius Caesar’s life. All of his inheritance, as well as his wife’s dowry, were taken from him. He was stripped of his priesthood, the last thing he really had. If Sulla had known that the young boy he personally stole everything from was going to turn out to be, he may of thought twice about stealing from him.

13)  Julius Caesar Was Kidnapped by Pirates
During his youth, Julius Caesar traveled quite frequently. His family had a tendency to be in power one week, and at then suddenly at mercy of the people during another. When he was young, he spent time at the court of King Nicodemus of Bithynia, partly because he did not feel he could come home. When he discovered at the age of 22 that his most ruthless rival had, so Caesar saw that he had the opportunity to come home without incident.

Julius Caesar

Along the way, his boat was hijacked by pirates. The records detail that Caesar was a very charismatic person, and on the journey he got into favor with the pirates that had accosted him. He did not grovel or beg, and even told the pirates that they should ask for more than twice the money for ransom that they had planned, 50 talents instead of the planned 20. When his uncle paid the sum, Caesar asked him for a fleet. Once he took control of the fleet he chased the pirates down, and had each of their throats slit.

12)  Julius Caesar Traded Flattery for Power
Throughout Caesar’s life his social status and relative power in society fluctuated. Sometimes he was very poor with almost no social pull, other times he was rich and powerful. Usually, no matter how well a particular campaign would go for him, he was not accorded what he thought were proper accolades from the people or from the government. During his time as a military man, he won an extremely important battle for the Empire, when himself and his army captured several tribes in Spain. This was a fantastic victory for Rome, manly because of how long the Roman Empire wanted to capture and control the region where Spain is located today.

Julius Caesar pointing

However, at the same time, Caesar was offered the opportunity to run for consul, a position of high importance in Rome. Elections were being held for this position within a few days of his return. If he wanted to have a triumph, he would have to wait outside until the parade started, according to the laws. However, no one inside would let him run for election in absentia, so he had to choose between the triumph he felt he had earned, and the political office he desperately wanted to win the election for. He chose the political office instead of a bunch of public flattery.

11)  Julius Caesar Used His Military Knowledge for Money
Early western civilization warfare was a much more messy and intimate killing affair. Men slaughter each other on the battle field face to face. Technology like drones and cruise missiles were not available to soldiers as they are in modern warfare. Ware was spontaneous at times, horrifically messy, very primal in that men would murder each other with primitive weaponry.

Caesar Bust
By Zaqarbal via Wikimedia Commons

This is not actually the case with Roman battles in that a lot of strategy and planning needed to be calculated by commanding officers. The battles were however, still very intimate and messy. When Caesar was a young man, he started to see that he was going broke. In order to start generating income, Caesar went to the military and attempted to make a deal. The deal involved financial compensation in exchange for his leadership in key battles. This was a gamble and if Caesar couldn't pull it off he would most likely be put to death by the men who lent him the money, or die on the battlefield. Luckily they did give Caesar the money, and young Caesar did not disappoint. He captured many areas of strategic importance and won key battles, further strengthening the Empire.

10)  Julius Caesar Became a “God”
Many people back in ancient times believed that gods lived all around humans, laughing, walking, talking, and eating just as normal people did. Many cultures believed in a god or goddess for just about every aspect of human life. It was believed that divinity could be granted to a living being.

Caesar coin

Cicero writes that Julius Caesar received the marks of deification, including the divine marks of his rod, his staff, and his crown, right before his assassination. Some other scholars, are certain that Julius Caesar was only deified after his death. After his death, a cult based on the life and possible divinity of Julius Caesar came together, remaining popular for many years.

9)  One of Julius Caesar’s Assassins May Have Been His Son
While Julius Caesar was married many times (see #8), but that does not mean he had a faithful marriage with any of them. It is well known that Caesar took many mistresses and lovers throughout his many marriages. His most infamous affair, was with Cleopatra, the Queen of Egypt. He lived with her for 14 years and many scholars including Plutarch, believe that if Caesar had been allowed to marry someone who wasn’t a Roman Citizen, he would have married Cleopatra.

Julius Caesar Greeting Cleopatra
Julius Caesar Greeting Cleopatra

His love for Cleopatra came much later in Caesar’s life. Earlier, he had an affair with a woman named Servilla, a member of a prominent house. Since she had a child that was about the right age, Caesar believed that Marcus Junius Brutus (known as Brutus) was his son. In fact, he had before confessed his desire to make Brutus his heir.

Betrayal and Murder of Julius Caesar
Betrayal and Murder of Julius Caesar

While many know Shakespeare’s famous line, “Et tu, Brute?” from the play “Julius Caesar,” according to Suetonius, a consul member present at the assassination, states that Caesar did not say this. He said that Caesar’s last words were, “You too, child?” to Brutus, emphasizing the father-son relationship they had. Whether Brutus was truly Caesar’s son or not is impossible to tell, but Caesar shows how someone who he had a very close relationship with betrayed him. 

8)  Julius Caesar Was Married Many Times
MarriageJulius Caesar was just like any powerful man in today's world. He had illegitimate children, was engaged in affairs, he struggled against gay rumors, he was too famous for his own good — in other words, he was a celebrity. Being a celebrity was not easy back then any more than it is today, and Caesar found himself facing the many challenges of being an early western civilization celebrity. One of these was his struggle to have a mail heir. He was in love with his first wife, but she only bore him only a single baby, his daughter named Julia (who later died before she could be married). After Caesar's wife died, he got married for a second time but it only lasted seven years. Caesar would ultimately do something that would of made tabloid headlines, that is if there were periodicals like Star magazine back then, he divorced her.

Julius Caesar

Caesar did marry for a third and final time to a woman named Calpurnia, which Caesar stayed married until he passed away. Calpurnia did not bear him any children, and the couple decided to adopt a child but not from Africa or China, as many celebrities do today.

7)  Julius Caesar Is the Reason Month Names Make No Sense
In Roman times, it was common practice for the people in power to have buildings and cities named after themselves. One example would be the children of a famous person all being named after their celebrity relative. Just like how George Foreman named all of his children George. If the child’s parent’s name was Julius, the child’s name would likely be Julia (the same daughter died very young.

Pre-Julian Roman Calendar
Pre-Julian Roman Calendar

Julius Caesar took the privilege of naming things a few steps further. He invented the Julian Calendar, which standardizes the length of year as 365 days, including a leap year once every four years where there are 363 days in a year. He also wanted to include his name directly into the calendar, and had the month of July named after himself. He also did the same for Augustus, his adopted heir and named the month of August after him. Thanks to Caesar there are a few months whose names really don't make any sense.

Caesar Inspired Calendar from Norway circa 1636
Caesar Inspired Calendar from Norway circa 1636
Courtesy of

For example, “sept” from September means “seven,” while the “oct” from October means “eight.” Since they are the ninth and tenth months of the year, there is plenty of room for confusion about the naming strategy for the months that make up the modern calendar.

6)  Julius Caesar Dealt with Gay Rumors
It seems like a contemporary problem that surrounds many of today's celebrities, is others coming to the conclusion that they were gay, without any factual basis for the observation. Many people believe it was something that was kept very hush-hush in ancient times, something that was simply too scandalous to even enter a conversation about the public figure in question.

Julius Caesar
Carlos Reusser [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Julius Caesar struggled with gay rumors his entire life, simply because of one incident that would call his sexuality into question. When he was very young, Julius Caesar and his wife traveled to Bithniya where the couple met with King Nicodemus. He stayed for quite a while at King Nicodemus's court, but when Caesar heard that his rival Sulla had died, Caesar immediately left for Rome. Because he was at the court for so long, rumor-mongers took this as a sign that he had been in some kind of illicit relationship with the king, even though there was no proof of anything morally questionable occurred. Caesar denied the accusations vehemently and even while he was under oath. The accusation seemed to haunt the rest of Caesar's life, much like any sex scandal in today's political arena comes into play.

5)  Julius Caesar Had a Mystery Disease
malariaThere is a possibility that Julius Caesar had malaria. He also may have had tapeworms. There is a strong likelihood that he may have had epilepsy. The disease that Caesar had (for he almost certainly had some sort of illness) is shrouded in historical mystery. Part of the reason behind the mystery is that medical records were not kept with the same accuracy, and thoroughness that they are in today's medical community. Another reason is that many diseases like malaria were extremely hard to diagnose, because a the time very little was known about infectious diseases. What is known is that Julius Caesar had some kind of ailment that affected him for many years, and that it looked enough like epilepsy to have many historians.

Julius Caesar

Again, these conclusions are only being drawn on what little information is available to modern-day historians. 

4)  Julius Caesar Practiced Human Sacrifice
Julius Caesar may not have danced around fires screaming and chanting to primitive deities. Back in the early days when was pursing the life as a priest, he remained devoutly religious, even when he started to amass power.

bust of julius caesar

One of the ways in which he was very strict was when it came to punishing criminals. Starting when he was a youth and kidnapped by pirates, Caesar developed a strong sense that the villains of the world must be punished in order to maintain law and order. He threw a triumph which is another world for a giant parade, in order to show off how well he’d conquered several lands. He also staged massive fake battles, forcing thousands of people and animals to fight to the death for the entertainment of the Roman people. This caused not only discontent among those who believed it was wrong, but even caused the Roman people to stage revolts.

Early Roman Mosaic Depicting Human Sacrifice on the Field of Mars
Early Roman Mosaic Depicting Human Sacrifice on the Field of Mars

Caesar’s response to the riot was to take some of the rioters and have the priests sacrifice them on what was called the Field of Mars, making sure that other rioters understood what was at stake.

3)  None of Julius Caesar’s Children Survived
Julius Caesar had a great deal of affairs in addition to being married three times. With such a record it would be easy to believe that he had followed in the footsteps of other dictators like Genghis Khan who was estimated to have approximately 16 million offspring that live in today's world.

Mongol Warrior Genghis Khan
Mongol Warrior Genghis Khan

This is not the case when it comes to Caesar's legacy, no living relatives of the infamous Roman Emperor exist today.

roman forum ruins

His first legitimate child Julia, died just after she was married leaving behind only a son, who died shortly after. She was the only child Julius Caesar had with his first wife, Cornelia. His second wife, Pompeia, did not bear him any children and neither did his third wife, Calpurnia. Of his illegitimate children, the only one that is confirmed to have been sired by Caesar is Cesarion. This was his son from his romantic relationship with Cleopatra, the Queen of Egypt. Cesarion died when he was just 17 years old and never had any children of his own.

Brutus and the Ghost of Caesar
Brutus and the Ghost of Caesar

The only other child Julius Caesar is reputed to have is Marcus Junius Brutus, another illegitamte child by his youthful lover Servilla. Brutus also died before he could have any heirs. 

2)  A Caesar Reigned for Two Thousand Years
Julius Caesar represented more to the Roman Empire and to most of the known world. To many nations, he represented the first high king, and the most powerful dictator the world had ever seen. Although he was famously jealous of Alexander the Great, Caesar once wept at Alexander’s statue because they were the same age, and Caesar felt as though that Alexander the Great had already surpassed him in history. Caesar’s legacy may be weighed as a much larger accomplishment then even Alexander the Great.

Relief of Alexander the Great
Relief of Alexander the Great

While Caesar did not pass on his genetics, he certainly passed an extremely daunting legacy. The ruler of Germany for many years was known as the Kaiser, a direct transliteration of the name Caesar, which was taken from Julius Caesar. In another country, the Russian ruler was known as a Tzar (alternatively spelled Czar, Tsar, and Csar), and ruled in a similarly inspired fashion. At least one of these kinds of rulers was in power consistently for over two thousand years after Caesar’s death, making Caesar's legacy live on.

Julius Caesar Looking Towards bust of Cleopatra
Julius Caesar Looking Towards bust of Cleopatra

Although his direct blood line may have ended, with his death Julius Caesar was able to pass his title on through his adopted son, who became known as Caesar Augustus. His name was even mentioned in the Bible if you look at the phrase, “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s.” This represents one of very few actual historical people to be mentioned by name in the bible, which is the most widely read across the world and across language barriers.

1)  Julius Caesar Was Not a Roman Emperor
Most people don’t remember too much from history class, but can easily name a few Roman emperors, if they need to. These usually include Nero, Claudius, and possibly Caligula and Tiberius, as well, of course, Julius Caesar. With the crown on his head and the scepter in his hand, he makes the perfect picture for a Roman Emperor.

Julius Caeser holding court

The fats are that Julius Caesar was never actually a Roman Emperor. He held several offices, including consul, dictator for life, and god, but never was an official Emperor. His adopted son, Augustus, also known as Octavian, was the very first Roman Emperor, according to “The Annals of Imperial Rome” by Tacitus.

Map of the Roman Empire in 40 BC Following His Assassination
Map of the Roman Empire in 40 BC Following His Assassination

As a fun fact, the crown of laurels that sits on top of his head was more out of respect than actually being an Emperor. The reasons for Caesar wearing the crown of laurels has more to do with cosmetic reasons that an official accessory for Emperors to wear.  He wore the symbolic laurel to help cover his balding scalp as he lost hair with age.

Julius Caesar may be one of the most famous Ancient Romans to have ever left, but many of the facts about him are considerably less well-known than his power and influence would suggest. While he was perhaps the most famous man in the world during his life, it is his name that lives on in contemporary society rather than the memory of great deeds or actions he may of performed while holding leadership in the Empire. Moreover, it is almost impossible to tell what kind of person he was except reading some of his surviving works, and the comments made about him by people in his inner circle.

While Julius Caesar’s life may have been turbulent, it was defiantly an extremely memorable life. It seems that anyone you ask knows the name Julius Caesar, especially if you ask any student in a history class. Trying to measure who he was as a man is very difficult due to the immense amount of time that has transpired since his life and assassination. His post as "dictator for life" and the mere fact that he was assassinated by his peers, may shed some clues that as far as tyrants go, he may of been impossible to live under.





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