Though his name has come to mean monarch or ruler, Julius Caesar was never a Roman Emperor. However, first as Consul then as Dictator for life, he paved the way for the end of the Republic and the dawn of the Empire. A victorious general, popular political leader and prolific author, his memoirs are a vital historical source for the era.
1. Julius Caesar was born in July 100 BC and named Gaius Julius Caesar
His name may have come from an ancestor being born by caesarean section.
2. Caesar’s family claimed to be descended from the gods
The Julia clan believed they were offspring of Iulus, son of Aeneas Prince of Troy whose mother was supposed to be Venus herself.
3. The name Caesar may have had many meanings
It could be that an ancestor had been born by caesarean section, but might have reflected a good head of hair, grey eyes or celebrated Caesar killing an elephant. Caesar’s own use of elephant imagery suggests he favoured the last interpretation.
4. Aeneas was legendarily a forefather of Romulus and Remus
His journey from his native Troy to Italy is told in the Aeneid by Virgil, one of the great works of Roman literature
5. Caesar’s father (also Gaius Julius Caesar) became a powerful man
He was governor of the province of Asia and his sister was married to Gaius Marius, a giant of Roman politics.
6. His mother’s family was even more important
Aurelia Cotta’s father, Lucius Aurelius Cotta, was Consul (the top job in the Roman Republic) like his father before him.
7. Julius Caesar had two sisters, both called Julia
Julia Caesaris Major married Pinarius. Their grandson Lucius Pinarius was a successful soldier and provincial governor. Julia Caesaris Minor married Marcus Atius Balbus, giving birth to three daughters, one of whom, Atia Balba Caesonia was the mother of Octavian, who became Augustus, Rome’s first emperor.