Essay, Research Paper: Julius Caesar

Shakespeare: Julius Caesar

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Born in Rome on July 12 or 13, 100 BC, Caesar belonged to the prestigious Julian
clan; yet from early childhood he knew controversy. His uncle by marriage was
Gaius Marius, leader of the Populares. This party supported agrarian reform and
was opposed by the reactionary Optimates, a senatorial faction. Marius was seven
times consul (chief magistrate), and the last year he held office, just before
his death in 86 BC, he exacted a terrifying toll on the Optimates. At the same
time he saw to it that young Caesar was appointed flamen dialis, one of an
archaic priesthood with no power. This identified him with his uncle's extremist
politics, and his marriage in 84 BC to Cornelia, the daughter of Marius's
associate, Cinna, further confirmed him as a radical. When Lucius Cornelius
Sulla, Marius's enemy and leader of the Optimates, was made dictator in 82 BC,
he issued a list of enemies to be executed. Although Caesar was not harmed, he
was ordered by Sulla to divorce Cornelia. Refusing that order, he found it
prudent to leave Rome. He did not return to the city until 78 BC, after Sulla's
resignation. Caesar was now 22 years old. Unable to gain office, he left Rome
again and went to Rhodes, where he studied rhetoric; he returned to Rome in 73
BC, a very persuasive speaker. The year before, while still absent, he had been
elected to the pontificate, an important college of Roman priests.
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