Many terms and quips in modern daily life pay homage to Julius Caesar, a general and dictator of ancient Rome. There’s a well-known salad (and dressing) bearing his name, and most have heard the storied “Et tu, Brute?” (“And you, Brutus?”) that is attributed to him. But the real legacy and life of this man amount to far more than popular foods and dramatic quotes.
Assassinated on the Ides (the 15th) of March in 44 BC, Julius Caesar paved the way for the establishment of the Roman Empire. A skilled general who conquered significant parts of what are modern-day France and Belgium, he wrote about these campaigns in “The Gallic Wars,” which to this day is taught and read in many high school Latin classes. As a politician, he allied himself with the powerful Pompey and Crassus in the first triumvirate (derived from the Latin words for “three” and “men”) before seizing power - it helps to have troops at your command – and becoming dictator of Rome in 46 BC.
Here are a few more facts, quotes and tidbits from his whirlwind life:
Julius Caesar had at least one juicy love affair: He was indeed a lover of the Egyptian queen Cleopatra, whom he helped reinstate on the throne after Egypt became seriously tangled in Roman politics. She even had a son by him, Caesarion, although Caesar did not acknowledge his paternity. Cleopatra joined Caesar in Rome for a time but returned to Egypt after he was killed.
Veni, vidi, vici: “I came, I saw, I conquered,” Caesar famously said – or actually, wrote – to the Roman Senate after he scored a military victory in modern northeastern Turkey in 47 BC.
A summer month is named for him: Caesar was born in the month of July, which was named Julius the year he was assassinated.
He was married three times: The first time, he was 17, and she died during childbirth after about a dozen years of marriage. His next marriage ended in divorce after six years, and his final marriage lasted until his assassination. Besides his wives, he was involved with Cleopatra, of course, and at least two other women.